SRINAGAR: The J&K Nurses Association has decided to observe a week-long token strike for one hour daily to demand recruitment of more nursing staff. Hospitals and health centres run by the Jammu and Kashmir government are facing shortage of more than 1,200 nurses due to lack of recruitment. Sources told Kashmir Reader that the shortage has assumed alarming proportions in many hospitals and is taking a heavy toll on patient care.
“The health department hasn’t created enough nurses’ posts in the past decade, even as patient load and hospital infrastructure have increased many times over during the period,” sources in the health department said.
As per Indian Nursing Council standards, J&K hospitals require 2,635 nurses to run patient care smoothly. However, only 1,410 nursing posts are at present sanctioned by the health department.
“As compared to tertiary-care hospitals, the hospitals associated with Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar are in a dismal condition,” the sources said.
Official documents have also pointed out the dire need for 1,526 paramedics in primary health centres, community health centres, and hospitals.
As per the breakup of the figures, 1,225 nurses, 721 pharmacists, and 721 lab technicians are required in various healthcare institutions of J&K. The hospitals are also falling short of 84 radiographers.
“Most of the paramedics, especially nurses, are overburdened as they are working for long hours. The norms of the MCI and NCI, which recommend one nurse for one patient in ICUs and one nurse for four patients in general wards, are not fulfilled,” said a senior administrator.
“The government has not recruited paramedical staff for a long time, despite the shortage. This has created a huge shortfall while the patient rush is increasing every day,” he said.
According to sources, one nurse is taking care of 40 patients in GMC Srinagar-associated hospitals.
“The major hospitals and district hospitals are facing huge shortage which is affecting patient care and forcing trained staff to look for better options like joining corporate hospitals or research,” a senior doctor told Kashmir Reader.
Representatives of nurses in J&K have already started an agitation over the “callous approach” of the government to the issue.
President of J&K Nurses Association, Parveena Khan, told Kashmir Reader that they sent many proposals to the government seeking enhancement of nursing staff, but all the requests were trashed.
“There are many vacant posts of nurses in different hospitals, even though creation of posts as per the patient load has not happened for long. We requested the authorities many times to fill up the vacant posts but they turned a deaf ear to our pleas,” she said.
She said some hospitals, including those for psychiatric care, are the worst affected due to the shortage of nurses. “Many nurses are unwilling to work in the hospitals because they don’t get risk allowance and pay at par with other institutions,” Khan said.
“This amounts to ill-treatment of staff by the administration,” she added.
The association has now decided to observe a week-long token strike for one hour daily. “The government has failed to fulfil our demands for the past 30 years. Despite the rules set by the government that nurses should be promoted after every five years, we (nurses) have not been promoted for the past 20-30 years. Higher posts allotted to us have been occupied by people from other streams,” said Khan.
The government apathy towards nurses working in different hospitals has been neglected so far by successive regimes, which has resulted in immense hardships to them, she said.