Around 8,000 nurses from private institutions and 1,200 nurses from government colleges enter the profession every year but only a few find permanent jobs. Poor salary, long work hours put many nurses off the profession

Although the city has a large number of hospitals in the private and government sectors, few are able to provide enough nurses to cater to patients. Hospitals are unable to comply with the Nursing Council of India’s norms, for various reasons.

Around 8,000 nurses from private institutions and 1,200 nurses from government colleges enter the profession every year but only a few find permanent jobs.

The council stipulates that in the intensive medical care unit, each patient should have a dedicated nurse whereas in post-operative wards, there should be one nurse for every two patients.

In the general ward, a nurse must attend to three patients, the council’s guidelines say. This is however, far from the norm.

At the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, a premier institution in the government sector with 2,772 beds, there are just 700 nurses whereas it needs at least four times that number, going by nursing council norms.

Ani Grace, treasurer of Trained Nurses Association of India-TN branch, admits that though nurses are paid for their experience and the ward they are placed in, the demand for higher salaries have resulted in institutions compromising on the quality of nursing. Nurses from private institutions aim for jobs in government hospitals because salaries and benefits are better, she says.

“A home care nurse who works for 12 hours gets paid Rs. 650, whereas the monthly salary in a private nursing home is only around Rs. 4,500 for a fresh entrant,” says a nursing superintendent at a government hospital.

Only if hospital administrations realise that it is in their interest to provide the best nursing care will nurses get better recognition, many experts say. And if this happens then quackery in nursing care can be prevented, Ms. Grace says.

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