Over 5,000 AIIMS nurses on Friday took mass casual leave, hitting the functioning of the premier medical institute. As many as 90 surgeries were postponed, and intake of trauma cases and emergency services affected.

All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) administration urged Centralised Accident and Trauma Services (CATS) ambulances not to bring in patients to the AIIMS but take them to other hospitals.

No trauma surgeries were performed at the AIIMS trauma centre that has five operation theatres, as against 15 surgeries on normal days. 

"We could not do any operation due to the protest. We somehow ran our Out Patient Departments. In my department, 16 operations had to be deferred," said AIIMS Acting Director Balram Airan, who is also head of Cardio Thoracic and Vascular Surgery Centre.

Airan said nursing students were roped in to deal with the situation. 

"It is the nurses who take care of surgical equipment during surgeries. In their absence, it is simply impossible to perform operations, except for minor laprascopic surgical procedure," said a doctor at the Orthopaedic Department. 

He said post-surgery care of many patients were also affected, forcing resident doctors to chip in.

"There was no one to take care of Intensive Care Unit patients, where they are usually kept after surgery for observation. Resident doctors looked after such patients," said the doctor.

"We have told the administration that if our pay scale is not increased from Rs 4,600 to Rs 5,400, we will go on an indefinite strike from March 27," said a senior nurse. 

Nurses are demanding higher pay scale despite coming under the purview of the Seventh Pay Commission. They also are seeking increase in nursing allowances by Rs 7,800. 

The AIIMS administration said it will re-forward their demands to the Health Ministry.