Staff of govt. hospitals asks for recruitment, confirmation of appointments and more posts

Nurses in government-run hospitals across the State wore their demands on their sleeves on Wednesday.

The badges, pinned on sleeves, displayed their three-point demand that they had presented in January to the health department with a warning of strike. But the department is yet to taken cognisance of their demands.

The nurses will wear the badges for the next two days to ensure their requirements are met. They say they are overworked as the government has not recruited fresh batches for several years. The government has neither created new posts nor has it filled vacancies regularly.

“It is only when there has been promotions, retirements or death have nurses been taken in. That too usually around 100 or 150 nurses are taken in on contract basis and even that has been infrequent,” said T. Leelavathi, secretary of Tamil Nadu Government Nurses Association.

The association, with over 11,000 members, says the nurses appointed on contract basis have not been regularised after five years in government service. Instead they are paid a consolidated salary of Rs. 4,500 to Rs. 6,000 a month. The last time recruitment of nurses on contract was in 2006, but even then the government did not consider creating new posts, Ms. Leelavathi said.

The nurses often have to wait for inordinately long periods of time for promotions. “Sometimes we remain staff nurses even after 30 years of service,” said association president P. Arivukannu.

There are 334 hospitals in the State with sanctioned bed strength of nearly 50,000 beds but the State has only around 15,000 nurses, including those on contract.

“We want the government to abide by the Indian Nursing Council norms which specify that there should be one nurse for three patients in a ward but the government has not adhered to it. At present we have one nurse for a ward with 20 beds. Sometimes we are in charge of two wards. How can we provide efficient services?” she said.

“We also want promotions to be regularised at 10, 20 and 30-year intervals,” she added.

The association has said it will intensify its agitation for three days beginning February 14 by raising slogans. The members said the agitation would not affect work at hospitals.

The nurses’ demand has been an issue that even hospital authorities have voiced. For instance, the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital with around 2,900 beds is the largest institution in the State but has only 700 nurses on its rolls. It has 40 departments and does renal and heart transplants regularly. The INC specifies that at each operation theatre, where major surgeries are done, two nurses should be posted but at present there is only one nurse for each table.

The delay in addressing the nurses’ grievances has arisen due to a court case filed by nurses of private institutions demanding that they too should be recruited to government institutions.

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