Livid over fresh recruitment, strikers demand absorption

As the agitation by BMCRI Stipendiary Staff Nurses Welfare Association enters the eighth day, patient care at the four affiliated hospitals — Bowring and Lady Curzon, Victoria, Vani Vilas and Minto — has been affected.

As many as 450 contract nurses, who have been working for the last five years in these four hospitals (their contract is renewed once in six months), are on a relay hunger strike demanding regularisation of their services. The protest follows a January 7 notification by the Medical Education Department inviting applications for the recruitment of 720 nurses, paramedic staff and lab technicians.

The protestors, who staged a demonstration in front of Bangalore Medical College on Wednesday, were taken into preventive custody and later released by the police.

The strike has increased work pressure on the existing permanent staff nurses. “The permanent staff nurses who are working on a 12-hour shift — 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. — in at least two of these hospitals are stressed out. Patient care, especially at night, is slightly hit because some nurses are working overtime without any rest,” a source in Vani Vilas Hospital said though authorities at the Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI), who admitted that existing staff is overburdened, denied patient care was hit.

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.

BMCRI Dean and Director O.S. Siddappa said alternative measures were being planned to mobilise more nurses. “Patient care has not been hit in any way because we have deployed more than 200 nurses from our Schools of Nursing located in Bowring and Victoria Hospitals.”

The services of 45 nurses recently appointed at the Super-Speciality Hospital built under the Pradhana Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) are also being used for the main Victoria Hospital. Besides, 42 interns from the College of Nursing in Victoria Hospital will be asked to continue till the new nurses are recruited, Dr. Siddappa said.

The protesting nurses submitted a memorandum to Dr. Siddappa, who met them on Wednesday. He said that he would forward the memorandum to the Home Minister.

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