Mumbai: 2,000 nurses go on strike, 90 surgeries rescheduled

Nurses from the JJ group of hospitals were protesting against the latest GR making it mandatory for the nursing staff to clear an exam before being hired

As many as 90 surgeries were rescheduled across the medical facilities falling under the ambit of Grant Medical College and Sir Jamshedjee Jeejeebhoy (JJ) Group of Hospitals after 2,000 nurses went on a day-long strike protesting the newly introduced Government Resolution (GR). However, patients visiting the hospitals seeking emergency medical services were treated.

The latest GR makes it mandatory for nurses working at all the state-run hospitals to appear for an examination and clear it if they want to be hired as a permanent employee. The rule is applicable for even those nurses who have been working for decades at a particular hospital. A total of 21,000 nurses from various state-run hospitals across Maharashtra participated in yesterday’s strike. The protest was organised by the Maharashtra Government Nurses Federation.

Speaking to mid-day, Dr TP Lahane, dean of Grant Medical College and JJ Hospital, said, “We provided emergency services to the patients without any difficulty. All the surgeries, about 90, that were rescheduled will commence from tomorrow.”

A resident doctor from JJ Hospital claimed they had to deploy nursing students to fill the void.

Official says
Commenting on the issue, Dr Mohan Jadha, state director of health services, said, “Whatever we are doing, will benefit the nurses. By passing this examination, they can be hired as permanent employees. This will make them eligible for all possible benefits a government employment is entitled to. These exams will be extremely simple and they can appear for it thrice in case of two back-to-back failures.”

Voices of dissent

Sumita Nair, a nurse from JJ Hospital
For years, nurses have worked across numerous state-run hospitals without giving any exam. But just eight days ago, they declare that such appointments are unethical. Even the nurses who are shy of retirement haven’t been spared.

Suman Tilekar, Maharashtra Govt Nurses Federation
We tried to meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis during his recent Pune visit and apprise him about the issue. But he didn’t talk to us. After the completion of the initial 18-month bond, a new contract is signed and it lacks mention of any such examination.

Meanwhile in Pune...

Like JJ, nearly 1,300 nurses working at the government-run Sassoon General Hospital participated in the strike following which final year nursing students were roped in to fill the void.

However, students accused the management into arm-twisting them to work at the hospital. A few of them even claimed that the authorities threatened that they would not issue hall tickets for the upcoming exam if the students refused to cooperate.

Pooja, a nursing student, said, “For the last two days, we have been forced to work in the hospital claiming that it was part of our job rather than an academic necessity. When we informed the authorities about the June 21 exams and requested them to excuse us, they bullied us into cooperating by threatening to stall the issuance of hall tickets.”

Seconding Pooja’s grievance, another nursing student, Shika said, “Those refusing to cooperate gave in after a few of the girls buckled under the pressure. However, we worked only for a few hours and left the hospital to concentrate on studies.”

Rubbishing the allegations levelled against the hospital management, Dr AA Taware, superintendent of Sassoon General hospital, said, “Prior to the strike, we met the municipal commissioner and were provided with 45 staffers.

Besides, final year medical and nursing students were roped in to fill the void. While most of them agreed voluntarily, a few refused to cooperate claiming they wanted to study for the upcoming exam starting June 21. We have neither compelled nor blackmailed anyone. Despite the shortfall, today [Wednesday] we successfully performed 12 major and 10 minor operations, alongside 10 deliveries.”

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