Outrage as J&K govt terminates 250 nurses amid pandemic

Nurses Association seeks immediate revocation of ‘unethical’ order, Financial Commissioner says no

Outrage as J&K govt terminates 250 nurses amid pandemic

Srinagar: The J&K Government has terminated nearly 250 members of nursing staff working in five new medical colleges of Jammu and Kashmir under academic arrangement basis. The decision comes at a time when government hospitals and health centres are short of nursing staff even as the number of Covid-19 patients and suspects under quarantine is rising by the day.

As per official documents, the health and medical education department has asked all the junior staff nurses recruited last year on academic arrangement basis for five new medical colleges to discontinue their services immediately. The orders didn’t mention any notice period, which is a clear violation of SRO-24 of 2019 under which they were appointed.

Nearly 70 junior staff nurses were posted in each medical college situated in the districts of Kathua, Rajouri, Anantnag, Baramulla and Doda. The order of their termination was issued on the directions of Financial Commissioner Atal Dulloo, as per sources.

Official sources said that disengaging nursing professionals will add to the staff shortage at associated hospitals of these medical colleges.

“Most of the hospitals do not have any back-up to cope with the present situation. Foreseeing the crisis, the administration of these colleges has appealed to the government to continue with the academic arrangement till permanent arrangement is made,” said one of the administrators.

GMC Kathua was the first to issue the termination orders on April 3, followed by GMC Rajouri on April 4.

Although the other three colleges, GMC Anantnag, GMC Baramulla and GMC Doda, are yet to serve the termination orders, they have informed the staff about their “disengagement” in a public advertisement notice released on April 4.

According to the Jammu and Kashmir Nurses Association, the order is a shocker for the nursing community which is on the frontlines of fighting with the Covid-19 crisis.

“Hundreds of nursing professional have been rendered jobless at this time of crisis. There was no prior notice given to them by the health department, which is illegal and unethical,” said Parveen Khan, president of the association.

“Hospitals across the globe are hiring more health care workers, including retired professionals, to fight the pandemic. But in J&K they are being fired,” she said.

“The terminated nurses are skilled and experienced. Their termination will allow unskilled students to take over their work, which may further put them at risk and intensify the spread of Covid-19,” Khan said.

She said the association has already written to the Financial Commissioner Health for the immediate revocation of the order.

“The general community holds the nursing profession in high esteem because of the selfless duty they perform. I hope the community comes to the help of the nurses,” Khan said.

Financial Commissioner Atal Dulloo said the termination order cannot be revoked because the posts on which the junior staff nurses were working are limited.

“New staff is joining on permanent basis so we cannot continue with the academic arrangement. There is a limited budget for salaries so the nurses recruited on temporary basis have to go,” Dulloo said.

“They have already signed an agreement with us that their services will continue only till the time permanent arrangement is made,” he said.

Dulloo said the department won’t let the hospitals suffer. “We have made adequate arrangements in our hospitals to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

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