Bangalore: When we were in pain, confused with sickness, in a strange hospital set up, they were a kind word, a comforting hand and a bright smile that cheered us up. Well, with the angry frustrated patients, their patience is like a balm that soothes. All of us, one time or other, were recipient of their kindness.
These unsung nightingales, the soul of healthcare services are often overworked, underpaid and disregarded in this part of the world. They are the hospital nurses.
As the world celebrated the Nurses’ Day on Sunday, City Express found some real time issues they face and also their hopes.
During a discourse with them, City Express found out that in the past 30 years, there has been no revision in the promotional structure for nurses who are employed in the state government run hospitals in Karnataka.
Muninarayanappa, Registrar of Karnataka Nursing Council said, “Thirty years ago, to become a staff nurse, a person required a nursing diploma qualification. But today we have many B.Sc and M.Sc nurses. If they want to be part of the government service, they are also treated and paid on par with the diploma nurses. It is high time the government really looks into it and restructures the system with different grades of promotions and provide an opportunity for growth inside the profession. For the past thirty years, nothing much had happened.”
Shrikanth Phulari, Divisional Vice President of Trained Nurses Association of India agrees. He said, “The lack of promotional opportunities at the work is one of the major reasons why nurses leave India and go abroad.”
If the basic pay scale of the nurses at the government set up is anything between `15,000 to `18,000 in Karnataka, the pay scale of the nurses in the private nursing homes and hospitals is pathetic.
Shrikanth Phulari said, “If a nurse fails to get a job in the government set up, they are left with no choice but to get employed in the private sector. Their pay is poor. Diploma nurses get anything between `2000 to `5000. The BSc nurses are paid a couple of thousands more. The worst thing that is happening in the private sector is, they employ unqualified people, who are dressed in white sarees and get masqueraded as nurses, so that they can pay such people, minimal money.”
As per the statistics of Karnataka Nursing Council, the state has 16,000 ANMs (Auxiliary Nurse & Midwives), 55,000 BSc nurses and 5,000 MSc nurses.
Muninarayanappa said, “From 2010, we have gone for live registration of nurses. Any nurse working in Karnataka can register with us. Currently, we have 32,000 nurses registered with us.”
Karnataka has close to 1000 nursing college and institutions offering courses starting from ANM to PhD in Nursing, but still they do not have a nursing university.
Muninarayaanappa said, “It is high time the state government starts thinking about it. We really need a nursing university which will help us to scale up R&D, evolve better practices, improve curriculum and give a much focused approach to the practice of nursing.”
The other long standing demand from the Trained Nurses Association of India- Karnataka was to have a separate directorate for the nurses. Shrikanth Phulari said, “Till now, in the state, it is the medical directorate that is governing the nurses, given their huge number in the state. To give better focus to their issues and work related problems, it is important to have a separate directorate of nurses.”
There was another suggestion that came up from the Trained Nurses Association of India. “Every state government honours the outstanding contribution of teachers, social workers, artists, musicians, etc. every year. The services of the nurses should also be recognised. The state government can constitute awards for the Best nurses in Karnataka. It will really motivate them,” said Shrikanth Phulari. With the new government taking charge, the association hopes that their demands may fall in the right place.