‘Critical duty assigned to nursing interns, students’
Srinagar: Hundreds of newborn babies are facing a life-threatening situation at Lal Ded (LD) Hospital due to acute shortage of nursing staff. Most of the babies kept in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) have only trainee nurses to look after them during the day. In the night hours, only four trained nurses are available to monitor the condition of more than 60 newborns kept in the critical-care ward.
“During the day, nursing trainees are asked to handle the newborns who are in a critical condition, putting their lives at risk,” sources in the hospital said.
Even though there are strict guidelines about the staff strength in different sections of a hospital, sources said that the callous approach of authorities to recruitment of more staff has affected healthcare at most hospitals, especially at LD.
As per Medical Council of India (MCI) and Nursing Council of India (NCI) guidelines, one nurse is recommended for one patient in NICU, and at least 1:10 ratio of nurses and patients in general wards.
“If we look at the MCI and NCI guidelines, this hospital is facing the worst shortage of staff, as it has one nurse for 15 patients in NICU, and in the general wards it has one nurse for nearly 40 patients,” said an administrator, wishing anonymity.
According to sources, there are 90 senior nurses manning the hospital which receives more than 1,200 patients on daily basis.
“There is an acute shortage of trained nurses in the hospital,” said a doctor. “The hospital administration has assigned critical duty to nursing interns and students, thereby putting lives of sick neonates at risk.”
As per the NCI guidelines, a hospital’s critical-care wards should have trained doctors and nurses with adequate experience in taking care of patients, especially emergency cases. However, officials at LD Hospital told Kashmir Reader that a proposal seeking enhancement of nursing staff was trashed by higher-ups in the Health and Medical Education Department.
“We requested the authorities many times to recruit more staff and fill up vacant posts, but the requests haven’t been addressed so far,” said another administrator.
Principal of Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar, Dr Samia Rashid, admitted that there was shortage of nursing staff at LD Hospital.
“We are in the process of recruiting more nurses. I have sought permission from higher-ups to recruit nurses on an academic arrangement basis. I am hopeful of getting the permission soon,” she said.
Asked about interns assigned critical-care duties, Dr Rashid said that the duties helped the trainees learn. “Since LD is a teaching hospital, we put them (trainees) on such work. However, they work under guidance from seniors,” Dr Rashid said.