Despite an assurance by Minister for Medical Education S.A. Ramdas that their demand for regularisation would be placed before Saturday’s Cabinet meeting, the 450 contract nurses, who are on a relay hunger strike, refused to withdraw their agitation.
Services in the four hospitals affiliated to Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI) — Victoria, Bowring and Lady Curzon, Vani Vilas and Minto — continued to be affected, although marginally.
Stipend to be raised
Mr. Ramdas, who met the protesters at Banappa Park (venue of the protest), promised them that their demand would be placed in the Cabinet meeting. He promised to keep in abeyance the January 7 notification inviting applications for posts of 600 nurses and 120 para-medical staff till the Cabinet took a decision.
He also announced that their monthly stipend of Rs. 7,000 would be increased to Rs. 10,000 and that they should get back to work immediately.
However, the protesters refused to withdraw their agitation till they were assured that their services were regularised.
B. Manjunath, president of the BMCRI Stipendary Staff Nurses’ Welfare Association, said the protesters were determined to continue till the government took a favourable decision.
“We have worked for more than five years for a meagre stipend of Rs. 7,000 with a hope that we will be absorbed as permanent employees in the hospitals. Some of us have crossed the age limit to apply for jobs after this. It is unfair that the department has ignored our services and has invited applications for new recruitments,” he said.
Although authorities at the hospitals denied the shortage of nurses was affecting services, sources said the existing staff are overburdened as they work in 12-hour shifts as against the eight-hour shift.
Sources said shortage of nurses and para-medical staff was a perennial problem in government hospitals. Of the 900 sanctioned posts of staff nurses in BMCRI-affiliated hospitals, only 259 are on the rolls.
While 130 are in Victoria Hospital, 37 are in Bowring and Lady Curzon, 70 in Vani Vilas and 22 in Minto Hospital.
“We are used to managing such situations as we have never had adequate nurses,” the sources said.
According to the Indian Nursing Council norms, the nurse-patient ratio should be 1:3 in surgical wards, 1:4 in medical wards and 1:1 in ICUs.
But in almost all government hospitals, including Bowring and Lady Curzon, Victoria and Vani Vilas, the ratio is 1:40 in surgical wards, 1:60 in medical wards and 1:4 in ICUs, sources added.