Panel on nursing sector holds sitting

The average salary of a part-time domestic help in the city is Rs.4,000. There are qualified nurses in this city who work 12 to 15 hours at a stretch and 16 days on night shift in a month for much less.

In some of the posh private hospitals in the city, the nurses get paid Rs.1,500 -1,750, while the tutors in the nursing college run by the hospital are paid Rs.3,000. Sweepers, receptionists, and the drivers in the same hospital earn between Rs.5,800 to Rs.8,000.

They have no appointment orders, no salary slips, no holidays, overtime allowance or sick leave or medical benefits.

They have to pay from their own pocket for the mandatory vaccinations for Hep B or HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis. They double up as nurses as well as menial staff.

The first sitting of an expert committee set up by the government, headed by the former Acting chairman of the State Human Rights Commission S. Balaraman, here on Wednesday to study the problems in the nursing sector, saw nurses from various private sector hospitals laying bare their pathetic plight in a profession they had embraced with much hope.

“This is slavery at its worst,” commented Mr. Balaraman, who seemed appalled as nurses after nurses listed out the harassment and exploitation they were facing at the workplace.

Most of the nurses said they stood the chance of losing their jobs if their employers came to know that they had given evidence before the committee.

“The documents of my house are pledged with a bank from where I had taken of a loan of Rs.6 lakh for doing the BSc nursing course. After completing the course, I worked for a year at a salary of Rs.1,500 at a hospital here. I get paid about Rs.6,000 now. My loan repayment now stands at Rs.8 lakh,” a male nurse said.

There are hospitals which still continue the bond system, despite a government directive that this is illegal. There are also institutions which demand a sum of Rs.50,000 to one lakh as bond as they could no longer withhold the nurses' certificates.

Nurses pointed out that doctors were the only employees in a hospital who seemed to be getting paid well, while the services of nurses were not even acknowledged.

Individuals as well as associations of nurses in the private sector represented before the committee.

Keywords: nursing sector