It takes a minimum of 28 years for a staff nurse in government hospitals to become a head nurse. A majority of them retire disappointed as they don’t stand a chance to get further promotions like Nursing Superintendent and Assistant Director of Nursing and become gazetted officers, which entails perks after retirement.
Ironically, nurses are not in-charge of their own nursing departments in State-run government hospitals. It’s the doctors, hailing from four different departments including Directorate of Health, Directorate of Medical Education, Andhra Pradesh Vidya Vidhan Parishad and Department of Family Welfare, who handle the administrative aspects of nurses.
Needless to say, nursing fraternity in the government hospitals find it hard to motivate themselves to excel in their roles. Lack of a dedicated directorate for nurses, practice of having midwives, regular recruitments, promotions and lack of infrastructure facilities have simply added to the woes of nurses. The discontentment among the nurses is widespread in government hospitals.
“How can a nurse motivate herself if she stagnates in one post for 28 years? Isn’t it absurd that issues relate to nurses are handled by doctors? Nurses are not getting their due in the government hospitals,” charges former general secretary, A.P. Government Nurses’ Association (APGNA), K. Sujavathi.
Many complain about lack of avenues for growth. “There is no culture of midwives, which is a step-up for nurses. Midwives take complete care of hospital obstetrics, birth centre, labour wards and postnatal wards. They handle pregnancies on their own unless the pregnancy is complicated and needs the presence of a doctor. This culture is not there in our government hospitals,” rues another nurse Stella Joseph.
At Osmania General Hospital (OGH), the largest tertiary care centre, new specialties are added every year, but the number of nurses remains the same. While officially the hospital has 1,168 beds, in the last few years, the number has gone up to 1,500. However, at present, there are only 312 staff nurses and 65 head nurses at the OGH.
“If you want to improve medical care, you have to keep the nurses happy. Basic facilities like sick rooms, changing rooms, hostels, regular promotions, separate directorate and introducing courses on midwives are a way forward. Holding celebrations for nurses once a year is not enough to improve working conditions of the nurses,” Ms. Sujavathi pointed out.