The shortage of nurses at Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Government Hospital (MGMGH) in Tiruchi remains an unsolved issue, raising concerns over the quality of care being provided to patients.
The super speciality government hospital has been operating with a little more than one-tenth of the required staff nurse strength due to a long-standing deficit of both male and female nurses.
Out of 200 nurses at the hospital, 160 are permanent staff nurses, while the rest 40 are contract nurses. As per Indian Nursing Council rules, there must be one nurse per eight patients in a ward and a nurse-patient ratio of up to 1:1 in critical care and labour wards.
The 165-year-old MGMGH, which has over 1,600 beds and handles approximately 40 to 50 deliveries every day, functions with only 200 nurses against a requirement of 1,400. The hospital is visited by at least 3,500 outpatients every day with patients coming from the neighbouring districts.
According to a nurse, they work on three shifts, and at least 200 nurses would be needed per shift, but there are only 200 nurses in total. “There’s always a shortage of staff in the hospital due to week offs and leave. Only one nurse is in charge of two to three wards during some shifts,” she said.
Due to the ongoing staffing deficit, nurses are working extra hours. “We worked day and night during the pandemic and now we are again working like it was COVID shifts,” she added.
Patients express concern over the situation as the quality of treatment is compromised by inadequate staff. “There is hardly any nurse especially at night and on Sundays. We are helpless as to who to call in an emergency,” said T. Kanchana. a patient’s attender.
A doctor claimed that the majority of the GHs in Tamil Nadu was in a similar predicament and that the government should monitor such situations and allot staff according to the hospital’s needs. “The crisis has persisted for so many years, and the nurses have been bringing up this matter for a long time now. The hospital is in dire need of more nurses,” he said.
“The management has submitted a request in this connection to the government and the Medical Services Recruitment Board process is under way. We expect nurses will be sanctioned shortly,” said Hospital Dean D. Nehru.