District hospitals short of nurses

A crisis seems to be looming large in the government health sector with the sudden shortage of staff nurses in government hospitals in the district.

Many of the temporary staff who were posted in these centres of healthcare under the NRHM scheme, have been withdrawn even as the government’s promise to create 990 new posts remains on paper.

“Many of the government hospitals have been upgraded or have added facilities by availing of the temporary services of the staff under the NRHM scheme.

The idea then was to replace them by creating sanctioned posts. Though the health minister promised to create 990 posts, the order is yet to be released”, sources said.

Last year, the Muvattupuzha Taluk hospital was raised to the status of a district hospital, the Aluva taluk hospital to district hospital and Kothamangalam Community Health Centre to taluk hospital, among others.

Around 450 temporary staff nurses were provided under the NRHM scheme to maintain the staff-bed ratio of 1:4. It was also decided that the NRHM nurses would ultimately be replaced by permanent staff in a step-by-step manner by 2017.

“The hospitals have added facilities but the government has not posted additional staff. With the gradual withdrawal of the temporary staff, hospitals now lack sufficient nurses to cater to the patients.

Against an ideal ratio of 1:6, the current staff-bed ration is as bad as 1:60 at some of these hospitals”, they said.

The crisis is all set to worsen when the Sabarimala season starts in another two months when a majority of male nurses in the district will be deployed for duty at clinics in Pampa and nearby areas, says Dr P.K.Jameela, director of health services.

As per the minister’s promise in the budget, a total of 990 posts – 650 nurses, 250 doctors, 60 nursing assistants and 30 attenders – would be created, but no order has been released in this regard even after several months.

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