Terminated from service, Medical Services Recruitment Board nurses demand extension, job security

They were recruited on a contractual basis for COVID-19 duty in 2020

April 04, 2022 07:08 pm | Updated 07:09 pm IST - CHENNAI

Contract nurses, who were recruited through the Medical Services Recruitment Board (MRB) for COVID-19 duty in 2020, staged a demonstration on Monday against termination of their services.

According to an official communication, to manage COVID-19 pandemic, nurses were appointed on temporary basis with consolidated pay initially for six months from the reserve list of the MRB exam for nurses held during 2019.

Due to the rising COVID-19 cases, the contract period was extended up to March 31, 2022. In a representation, certain nurses said about 2,472 nurses, who had joined, were appointed based on merit and communal rotation among the reserve list and requested to consider them against the vacancies. The department went on to terminate the services of the remaining 800-odd contract nurses on March 31.

“A total of 3,200 nurses were appointed for managing COVID-19 cases in 2020. We held talks with the Health Minister and Health Secretary. We were told that there were around 2,400 vacant posts for nurses, and we raised that the remaining contract nurses should be considered for upcoming vacancies. But with no prior intimation, the department issued an order terminating the services of the remaining 800-odd nurses on March 31,” S. Rajesh, general secretary of the MRB COVID-19 Nurses’ Association, said.

They staged a protest seeking extension of services for the 800-odd nurses and absorbing them on the same grounds as the 2,400 nurses.

“We were recruited for a salary of ₹14,000 a month. We were told that if we did not accept the appointment for COVID-19 duty, we would be taken off the reserve list and would not be considered for future recruitments. We were posted in COVID-19 duty in government medical colleges and headquarters hospitals,” Mr. Rajesh said. Except for 15 male nurses, the remaining were women nurses, he added.

G.R. Ravindranath, general secretary of the Doctors’ Association for Social Equality, urged the government to consider their demands for job extension and security.

Health Minister Ma. Subramanian told reporters that those who had worked during the pandemic were prioritised while recruiting 7,448 persons for the Makkalai Thedi Maruthuvam (MTM) scheme. A total of 4,844 staff nurses and over 2,400 health inspectors, who attended the interviews, were granted 20 marks on priority basis. Many of them have already joined work, he said.

“We have already decided to appoint over 2,000 of these MRB nurses for MTM and vacancies in the Health Department. We cannot give postings immediately for about 890 nurses. Another 2,000 nurses may be recruited for MTM, and we will consider these nurses on priority basis in the future,” Mr. Subramanian said.

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