Int’l Nurses Day observed as ‘Black Day’ in Srinagar hospitals

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The nursing staff of associated hospitals of Government Medical College (GMC) here observed International Nurses Day as “Black Day” and organized a sit-in program at Government Dental College to press for fulfillment of their long pending demands.
The issues raised by nursing staff pertain to removal in anomaly of their wages and allowances as well as staff issues in the health institutions. “Ours is a delicate profession and we cannot easily go on strike as people will suffer greatly if we leave work for even a day.” says Parveen Khan, president, All Jammu & Kashmir Nurses Association (AJ&KNA).
They are employed under SRO-202, which was implemented by the present government in 2015 citing “financial instability” in the state. Under it, new appointees are entitled to minimum scale of pay, which ranges from meager Rs 7000 to Rs 8000, along with grade pay applicable to post against which they are appointed.
“We accepted the new regulations with a pinch of salt understanding the case of financial instability, which we were willing to wait out. However, the government has continued to raise salaries of its own higher ranking officials, and we are refused increments because of supposed financial instability. We do technical work but don’t receive pay according,” she added.
Furthermore, the association members said there were glaring pay anomalies among different medical staff such as nurses and pharmacists, and even disparities among nurses of same rank in different institutes.
“There is a huge disparity among nursing officers and other cadres who are at the same level, such as pharmacists. Both are required to do courses of same intensity but the pharmacists earn significantly more. The nurses in SKIMS Bemina and SKIMS Soura come under same administration and pay grades, however the latter draw much larger salaries, which makes no sense”, says Wasim Raja, a junior grade nursing officer at SKIMS Bemina.
There is also no new creation of posts, while the workload has increased considerably, the said. “The Lal Ded hospital has increased its bed capacity from 100 to 750 but number of nursing staff has remained same. There are also numerous higher posts,” said Rubeena, a senior nursing officer.
The INC rules state a staffing to patient ratio requirement of 1:1 for ICUs and 1:5 for general wards. However, most government institutes here have a staffing of 1:5 for ICUs and up to 1:60 in general wards. “We are understaffed and overburdened and our work always requires us to be attentive and careful. As a result of the overload patient care suffers considerably,” added Parveen Khan.
Furthermore, the nursing staff is not allowed to avail Sundays or most gazetted holidays and instead are supposed to get two and a half day’s pay as remuneration for extra service, but the same is not being paid to them, the association members said, adding the nursing staff also receives no risk allowance, which is direly required as they attend to patients with highly communicable diseases frequently.
One of the major issues with the implementation of SRO 202 is the absurdly long five-year probation period, before which none of the staff are entitled to any pay increments, or extra allowances. “It is unheard of in medical institutions around the world to have a probationary period this long,” said Wasim Raja.
The association has announced they will observe a day-long strike within 15 days if their problems were not resolved. Meanwhile, the Shere-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) commemorated the Nursing Day today. There was also prize distribution ceremony at the end

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