SRINAGAR: Nearly 70 mentally challenged patients admitted at the government psychiatry hospital or the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Srinagar have only one nurse to look after them in night hours.
“There are six wards in the Psychiatry Hospital for different categories of inmates. Three nurses look after nearly 70 mentally challenged and aggressive patients during the day while only one attends them during the night,” sources in the hospital said.
The hospital administration and Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar violate guidelines about the staff strength in different sections of the hospital which comprises of a rehabilitation center for ‘highly violent’ patients.
The “callous approach” of J&K Health Department towards recruitment of nursing staff has affected the functioning of the hospital, an administrator said.
As per Nursing Council of India (NCI) guidelines, one nurse is recommended for one patient in the sensitive wards like ICUs and rehab wards, and at least 1:10 ratio of nurses and patients in general wards.
In psychiatry hospital, the patients are facing the worst situation as only one nurse is looking after 70 patients
According to sources, there are only 14 nurses presently working in the hospital which receives more than 1,000 patients on daily basis. The hospital admits sixty to seventy patients on an average.
“Out of 14, three to four nurses work in the hospital on rotation basis while four handle the administration as they are posted as Assistant Matrons and Supervisors. There is an acute shortage of trained nurses in the hospital which led to the crisis situation in the hospital,” said a doctor.
“Closed and family wards need continuous monitoring and nursing of patients. But, the hospital administration has assigned the critical duty to a single nurse, thereby putting lives at risk.”
NCI guidelines say a hospital’s sensitive-care wards should have trained doctors and nurses with adequate experience in taking care of patients.
However, a representative of nurses in J&K told Kashmir Reader that a proposal seeking enhancement of nursing staff was trashed by higher-ups in the Health and Medical Education Department.
“There are many vacant posts of nursing in different hospitals. We requested the authorities many times to recruit more staff and fill up vacant posts. But, they have turned deaf ears towards our pleas,” President J&K Nurses Association, Parveena Khan said.
She said some hospitals including psychiatry hospital are worst affected due to the shortage of nurses.
“Many nurses are unwilling to work in the hospital because they have to go through a risky situation to handle affairs of mentally unstable patients,” Khan said.
According to her, a single nurse handles the job of record keeper and pharmacist in the psychiatry hospital during the night. “This amounts to the ill-treatment of staff by the administration. Isn’t this reasons enough for us to celebrate International Nurses’ Day as Black day?” she asked.
The Association has decided to observe the International Nurses Day as the black day in Kashmir, saying that the failure of successive regimes in fulfilling their demands has resulted in the immense hardships to them.
“The government has failed to fulfill our demands from past 30 years. Despite the rules set by the government that the nurse should be promoted after every five years, we (nurses) have not been promoted for past 20-30 years. Higher posts allotted to us have been occupied by people from other streams,” she said.
The government apathy towards the nurses working different hospitals have been neglected so far by the successive regimes, which has been resulted in immense hardships to them, she said.
The principal of Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar, Dr Samia Rashid, admitted that there was a shortage of nursing staff at Psychiatry Hospital.
“I have posted four more their nurses today only. We are in the process of recruiting more nurses. I am hopeful of getting more nurses so that the issue gets sorted out soon,” she said.