A no-work agitation by a section of nurses brought RG Kar Medical College and Hospital to its knees on Wednesday, with several emergency surgeries being cancelled and treatment of outdoor patients coming to a near-standstill.
'We are reeling under pressure. But the hospital authorities have no sympathy for us. On the contrary, they harass us anytime they fancy,' complained Anuradha Pal, in-charge of the operating theatre of the eye-surgery department and a leader of the agitation. 'One of our colleagues was showcaused on Tuesday for no fault of hers. To protest the injustice, we have decided not to work in non-sanctioned zones, like operating theatres, labour rooms and the outdoor department,' she added.
'Only posts of bedside nurses are sanctioned at the hospital. So, if we don't work in other areas, no one can hold us responsible for hampering hospital work. We will continue our agitation until we get justice,' Pal asserted.
Treatment of patients came to a halt at various departments due to the protest. A number of planned and emergency surgeries were cancelled. Medical procedures like endoscopy were also not done. Work at the outdoor department, where at least 2,000 patients are treated every day, was also severely hampered due to non-availability of nurses.
'We are holding talks and trying to resolve the crisis,' said Pradip Kumar Mitra, hospital superintendent.
The tussle started after the hospital authorities slapped a showcause notice on Momina Khatun, nurse in-charge of the oncology department, on May 6 for 'illegally occupying' the storeroom of the department. On Tuesday, another showcause notice was served on her, as the authorities found her response to the previous notice 'inadequate'.
The agitating nurses said there is no storeroom or nurses' room in the department. Prior to the inauguration of the cobalt wing and a day-care chemotherapy unit in the department by the chief minister on May 6, Khatun had been asked to occupy a room in the old oncology building and use it as storeroom, they alleged. After the inauguration, department head Swarnendu Dutta asked her to hand over the key of the room. 'Khatun was served the showcause notice regarding the same matter,' said Pal.
'She was occupying a room illegally. The showcause was served for that,' said the hospital superintendent.
Sanghamitra Sen, another leader of the agitating nurses, said: 'Only about 300 nurses are available in the hospital on a daily basis, as 46 are off duty due to various reasons. The number of sanctioned beds in the hospital is 1,107, but at least 1,200 patients are admitted. Which means, during each of the three shifts, 100 nurses have to take care of 1,200 patients. The rule is that there should be one nurse for every three patients. But here, one nurse takes care of 12 patients.'