Hyderabad: In 2020, a year declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, a shocking new study shows that nurses, popularly referred to universally as ‘sisters,’ hardly have ideal work conditions, get less sleep on most days and are paid less.
Impending long shift duties trigger anxiety and stress among them. Nurses are sleeping, on an average, less than recommended, because of the sheer length of their work shift, which may be impacting their health and performance on the job. Health-care managers should consider interventions to support nurses’ sleep to improve patient care, the study says.
In return for all their troubles, nurses are not paid according to norms. In many hospitals, nurses, who are freshers, and join after completing the General Nursing and Midwifery (GNM) diploma, are paid as low as Rs 8,000 per month in small nursing homes in urban areas, while it is even lower in rural areas at Rs 6,000 per month.
Corporate hospitals pay Rs 11,500 per month for freshers, but in many hospitals even senior nurses are paid more or less the same. In the case of nurses who have completed BSc (nursing), pay in rural hospitals remains the same as diploma holders, while in corporate hospitals, they are paid Rs 12,900 per month when they join as freshers,
There are over 8,000 private hospitals and nursing homes in Telangana state, wherein over 80,000 nurses are working to keep the healthcare sector going, but most of them, working on very low salaries, said Mr Laxman Rudavath, working general secretary, Nursing Officers Association, Telangana state.
In 2011, the Trained Nurse Association of India (TNAI) filed a case in the Supreme Court, seeking the grant of minimum wages to all nurses throughout India. On January 29, 2016, the Supreme Court ordered the Central government to form a special committee to look into the matter. Subsequently, the Dr Jagadish Prasad commit-tee came out with recommendations and guidelines for the Central government on improving wages and working conditions of private hospital nurses across the country.
Mr J.P. Nadda, the then health minister, had said, “Health is the responsibility of the state. It is a subject on the state list. We have framed guidelines and sent it to all states. All governments in all states and union territories have to implement these guidelines for the welfare of the nurses.”
TS yet to follow guidelines for nurses
“In Kerala, the government has imposed a rule to be followed by private hospitals. Karnataka has adopted it and is working on ensuring it is followed by all hospitals. Delhi is in the process of implementing it. Apart from this, all other states are considering it and in the process of implementing it. When the Central government gave its order, following the recommendation by Supreme Court, all states have to enforce it. There is no other go. But we want to know why some states are not implementing it?” said Dr Roy K George, president, All-India Trained Nurse Association of India.
“Most states are in the process to implement this rule but Telangana is the only state which is not even considering it. Why is our state reluctant to look into this matter? Nurses here are yet to be considered as medical professionals and given wages properly. Currently, they are paid less than plumbers,” said M. Rajeshwari, president, Telangana unit of the Trained Nurses Association of India.
“It has been more than one year since I completed my B.Sc (nursing) degree. I am working in a private nursing home. I am paid Rs 6,000, which is very less. Our work timings are also more when compared with the guidelines. We took this up as a noble profession and we give our best to treat and serve patients. But, at the end of the day, we are left with no money,” said Monica Velpula, working as a nurse in a private nursing home in Adilabad. They have taken the Florence Nightingale pledge to serve humanity, but for how long would they have to wait for getting their dues?human habitations.