May 12 is observed as International Nurses Day
Although government-run hospitals in the city have been upgraded by adding more beds and other facilities, the working conditions of nurses continues to be dismal and their salaries low.
With a perennial shortage of paramedical staff, the nurses neither have fixed weekly offs nor maternity leave.
They do not even have medical insurance or medical leave facility. May 12 is observed as International Nurses Day.
Kamala Hugar, president of the Karnataka State Government Nurses' Association, said nurses in most hospitals do not have basic amenities such as changing/rest rooms, toilets or even drinking water.
“In Vani Vilas Hospital, some 30 to 40 of us on a single shift have only one rest room and two toilets. Sometimes, we use the toilets in the wards,” she said.
Pointing out that nurses are always under the threat of contracting infectious diseases while handling patients, Ms. Hugar said: “We do not have any security and it is difficult on night shifts when we have to face the wrath of patients' relatives for no fault of ours.”
Although the Government has appointed nurses on contract, there is a shortage of full-time nurses. Of the 9,000 sanctioned posts, hardly 6,000 are on rolls.
This does not conform to the Indian Nursing Council norms which stipulate a nurse-patient ratio of 1:4. The average nurse-patient ratio across the State is 1:40 and the situation is worse in the city.
Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute's (BMCRI) Dean and Director (in-charge) O.S. Siddappa attributed the shortage to not increasing the sanctioned posts after the upgradation of the hospitals.
“But all the sanctioned posts are filled and we also have appointed nurses on contract. That apart, the services of student nurses are also used when necessary,” he said.
The Health Department's decision to recall all medical staff, including doctors and paramedics who are on deputation in autonomous medical colleges and teaching hospitals, is likely to worsen the problem.
Of the 80 sanctioned posts for nurses in Vani Vilas Hospital, 54 are on deputation from the Health Department. “With the recent notification, 23 senior staff nurses, 20 staff nurses and 11 Grade II employees will have to go back to their parent department. This will definitely affect medical services in the hospital which is already facing a staff crunch,” a senior staff nurse said.
As many as 12 nurses will be conferred the Florence Nightingale Awards 2011 at a function organised by the Anglo Indian Unity Centre and the Florence Nightingale Nurses Welfare Association in co-ordination with Karnataka State Nursing Council here on Thursday.