The expert committee that has been constituted by the State Government to study the problems of nurses employed by private hospitals in the State conducted its sitting here on Thursday.

Headed by the former Acting chairman of the State Human Rights Commission S. Balaraman, the committee had held similar sittings in four other districts including Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha.

More than 25 complaints have been submitted to the panel during the sitting. While a few nurses had come in person, many were represented by their parents or guardians. Among them was the father of two nurses Pathrose Chacko, who is also the State joint secretary of the Indian Nurses Parents Association (INPA). In his complaint, he has pointed out the various hardships that were faced by nurses in the name of training or internship in private hospitals. Only a few private hospitals in the district provided remunerations in the district. According to him, the nurses are also subjected to severe harassment by the hospital authorities.

According to Prasanna Kumari, Deputy Director of Nursing Education and member of the committee, the complaints that have been received were wide-ranging. They pertained to cases of harassment by hospital authorities, meagre salaries, bond system, difficulties caused by inability to repay educational loans, and unduly long work hours.

When enquired, she did not rule out the possibility of ill-treatment by hospital managements of those nurses who come forward to air their grievances before the committee. “In an instance that has come to our notice, a few nurses were dismissed from service by a private hospital for having approached the Labour Commission. We have been conducting visits to various private hospitals in order to encourage nurses to come forward with their complaints. A stern attitude has been maintained against those managements that prevent their employees from voicing their problems,” she told The Hindu.

The committee members also visited a few private hospitals including the SH Medical Centre, Caritas Hospital and Bharath Hospital.

Later, after the conclusion of the sitting, Dr. Balaraman said that the committee would submit its findings and recommendations to the State Government after conducting similar sessions in the other districts. Speaking to The Hindu, he pointed out that legislation would be required to counter the exploitation of nurses in a permanent manner. Hence, the committee is most likely to recommend the formulation of such a legislation based on its findings, he said.

P. Devaki, Additional Director of Nursing Services, and Valsamma Joseph, Principal, Government College of Nursing, Thrissur were the other committee members who had attended the sitting.