Patients hit in city’s four government hospitals

Almost three months after the stipendiary nurses went on strike, — which they called off later — patient services in the four government hospitals affiliated to Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI) continue to be hit.

Although the Medical Education Department had started the process to recruit additional nurses (applications were called and interviews had begun), it (the recruitment process) has come to a standstill owing to the model code of conduct which is in effect.

Poll effect

“With the model code of conduct in force, recruitment cannot be done till a new government is formed. We will be forced to manage till then despite severe shortage of nurses,” said a senior doctor.

BMCRI’s Governing Council had on February 16 decided against permitting the 409 stipendiary nurses to resume work in its four hospitals.

Demanding regularisation of services, the nurses had gone on strike from January 9. They withdrew the strike on January 30 following an assurance from BMCRI that they would be allowed to resume work if they withdrew unconditionally.

However, the Governing Council did not permit them to rejoin and the nurses had approached the Labour Department.

Services hit

Following this, services in the four hospitals — Bowring and Lady Curzon, Victoria, Minto and Vani Vilas —continue to be hit with doctors referring surgeries to other hospitals.

‘Problem will worsen’

A senior doctor in Bowring hospital said the problem was likely to reach an all-time high in the coming days as postgraduate student nurses who were helping staff nurses in these hospitals have a month’s vacation from April 1.

“So far, we have been managing with the help of student nurses. But if they are not going to be available for the next one month, we wonder how we will manage. Most of us have been stressed out and are falling sick,” said a senior nurse from Vani Vilas.

The shortage of nurses has forced doctors in these hospitals to close down operation theatres in certain departments.

While the number of patients admitted to intensive care units in Bowring hospital has also come down, doctors have also restricted the number of surgeries to 15. Usually, nearly 30 surgeries were performed daily.

“We are forced to defer or refer elective cases to other hospitals and cater to only emergency cases. Of the 1,000 odd out-patients per day in Victoria hospital, nearly 100 were admitted earlier. Following the shortage, the number of patients visiting the hospital has also reduced,” a doctor at the hospital said.

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.

These nurses were assisted by the 409 stipendiary nurses.