It allowed students of both streams to take exam for appointment in government hospitals

Degree and diploma holders from private nursing institutions can no longer compete with those who had studied in government institutions for appointment as nurses in government hospitals.

The Madras High Court has set aside a Tamil Nadu G.O. of January 18 last year which sought to put an end to a long tussle between persons who studied nursing in private institutions and students from government institutions. By the order, the students from the two streams were allowed to take a competitive examination conducted by the Medical Services Recruitment Board for appointment as nurses in government hospitals.

This G.O. was challenged through petitions on the ground that the practice adopted for over 50 years of appointing only those who graduated out of government institutions could not be discarded overnight by the government.

Earlier, the court had granted a stay of the operation of the G.O. A few other students who had studied in private institutions filed petitions seeking to vacate the stay.

In the final order, Justice V.Ramasubramanian pointed out that a Division Bench and a Full Bench of the High Court had already held that students who studied in government institutions stood on a much better footing than those who had studied in private institutions. But the impugned G.O. did not take note of the decision of the Benches. Therefore, the G.O. was contrary to the Benches’ decision.

Mr.Justice Ramasubramanian said the government had a duty to ensure that students who studied in government colleges and for whom the government had invested a great deal of public money should serve back society at large and return what they had taken from the government. Those who had studied in private institutions could not claim equal treatment in the matter of employment in government hospitals with those who studied in government colleges.

Experience showed that government’s every attempt to extract service from those on whom public money had been spent had been upheld by courts in the past. Such an expectation was not something new and special to the government. Even modern management concepts encouraged the theory of “ploughing back.”

As held by the Division Bench, students of private institutions “actually happen to be (fortunately or unfortunately) the return on the investment made by those running the private institutions,” the Judge said.

Nurses disappointed

Nurses associations that claim to represent both private and government nurses are disappointed and want the government to provide equal opportunities to candidates from government and private nursing colleges for placement in government hospitals.

A nurse, who is holding a senior official position now, said the government nursing colleges did not have enough nurses to meet the demands in government hospitals. Students were increasingly opting out of nursing. She opined that the government could set aside a percentage of vacancies for candidates from private nursing colleges.

Jaeny Kemp, president of the Tamil Nadu branch of Trained Nurses Association of India, is certain that the existing pool of nurses from government-run nursing schools cannot fill all vacancies. According to her, the bed ratio in government and private hospitals cannot be compared. Besides, there is the millennium development goal that India has to reach by 2015, she argues.

R. Vivekanandan, president Tamil Nadu Private Nursing Colleges Association, said stipends and accommodation were used several decades ago to encourage students to take up nursing as a profession. But the scene has since changed. It is now time to ensure that all candidates get equal opportunities, he added.

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