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Nurses protest ‘post transfer’ at AMCH
Nurses of AMCH wear black badges on Tuesday to protest the ‘transfer’ of nursing staff to Jorhat Medical College. Picture by Eastern Projections
Dibrugarh, June 22: The Dibrugarh district unit of the All Assam Nurses Association today alleged that several patients had died recently at the Assam Medical College and Hospital here because of an acute shortage of nursing staff.

The association levelled the allegation while protesting against an alleged move by the state health department to transfer 40 posts of nurses on attachment, from the Assam Medical College and Hospital, Dibrugarh, to the newly established Jorhat Medical College and Hospital when the AMCH was plagued by an acute shortage of nursing staff.

The principal and chief superintendent of AMCH, Dibrugarh, T.R. Borborah, while expressing solidarity with the nurses on their demand, told this correspondent that the nurses’ allegation of patients dying at the institute because of acute shortage of nursing staff was an exaggeration of facts. “What the nurses are demanding are beyond my limits. Therefore, I had made it clear that the best I could do was to organise a meeting with the minister. But it seems that they are not interested,” he added.

The nurses at the institute, who wore black badges while attending patients today in protest against the department’s move, said they were running out of patience and had to speak about the injustice being meted out to them by the state health department.

“According to the norms of the Medical Council of India (MCI), one nurse has to attend to three patients at a time. However, the situation is so pathetic and grim at the AMCH that we are attending to 50 and even more patients at a time,” Sobharani Dutta, the president of the association said.

According to figures available, the AMCH, the oldest medical institution in the region, has only 219 nurses against 475 posts. Of the 1,365 beds at the institute, about 1,200 remain occupied everyday. Besides, nurses are required round-the-clock at the its 13 operation theatres.

“Many patients die under these circumstances and the death rate has been quite high during the past few weeks. Despite this, the health department is taking away 40 posts of nurses from the AMCH. This is injustice and we will not bow down to this,” Dutta said.

The secretary of the nurses’ association, Junu Chutia, said their staff problem could not be the concern of patients’ attendants and there were instances when nurses had been at the receiving end from unruly attendants and relatives of patients.

The Directorate of Health Services, Assam, had, through an order dated June 5, 2010, stated that the 40 nurses who will be appointed at AMCH will be allowed to work at JMCH on attachment and they will be drawing their salaries and other allowances from AMCH while working at JMCH. Sources said the nurses had been recruited for the JMCH but their appointment would be temporarily registered under the nurses’ posts lying vacant at the AMCH, Dibrugarh, till the infrastructure at the JMCH was properly established.

The association discussed the matter with Borborah and AMCH superintendent Nripen Gogoi this morning for an amicable settlement but the discussions failed.

Chutia said AMCH authorities had discussed the matter with senior officials of the state health department over phone. The officials said the matter would be settled within the next three months but when the association asked for a written statement on this, they refused. “Therefore, we have decided to go ahead with our agitation,” she said.

The nurses will wear the black badges for five days from today in protest against the government’s decision. They have threatened to intensify their agitation if the government fails to revert its decision.

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