Bengaluru: Close to 300 nurses at the Institute of National Importance protested against an acute shortage of staff on Tuesday, asking the institute head to address their demand. Luckily for the patients, they withdrew the strike after the registrar assured them that the new operation theatre will not be opened till more staff is sanctioned. The patients at regular OTs had a tough time as surgeons and attendants managed the nursing duty till the protesting nurses resumed work. Emergency OTs functioned normally.
Two months ago, the nurses had staged a black badge protest against the staff shortage. “It was a token protest, but we have been sending letters asking for more nurses. We have been getting only assurances but no additional nurses," said a protesting woman nurse.
The institute has been struggling with a shortage of nurses for a few years. Now with a shortage of 838 nurses, the nurse to patient ratio has gone up to 1:24 in general wards and 1:4 or 1:5 at ICUs.
“The director has been telling us for the past two years that 197 nurses have been sanctioned, but no one has been appointed," said N. Regin, president of the Nurses Association at the institute. “We have a shortage and it is difficult to struggle like this. Suddenly if a memo is issued to the staff despite knowing our grievances, how does one expect us to work? This triggered today’s protest. However, emergency OTs still functioned normally. The bigger worry is the opening of the new OT building without getting the required nurse strength," he said.
Nimhans Director Dr B.N. Gangadhar said, "For the new OT, we have appointed ten attendants on contract, and there is no pressure on the existing nursing staff."
The nurses, however, maintained that they have not received any notification about the hired staff.
Dr Gangadhar agreed that there is a shortage of staff. “They are all competent nurses, but I agree they are overworked. But everyone here, even the doctors, is overworked. We have been sanctioned 195 nurses, but we are waiting for permission to advertise for the job notification," he said.
The Institute has eight OTs, including the new intraoperative MRI OT, which is the first advanced OT in South India. “Despite the OT staff saying that there is not enough strength, the institute went ahead with the opening," said another nurse....