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Nurses on pen-down stir

- RIMS staff to intensify agitation over job regularisation

Over 350 contractual nurses working at Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Ranchi, went on a pen-down strike from Tuesday to mount pressure on the government for regularising their posts. They warned of an indefinite strike from Thursday midnight if the state failed to initiate steps in this regard.

The nurses, who have been working on an ad-hoc basis for around 13 years, hit the protest path again after a meeting with state health minister Rajendra Prasad Singh at his official residence on Ratu Road on Monday evening failed to yield any concrete result.

“The health minister assured us that he will put forward the issue before the state cabinet on July 28. We are tired of such assurances,” said Ramrekha Rai, president of RIMS Contractual Nurses’ Union (RCNU).

Despite the nurses’ protest, patients apparently did not face any difficulty and healthcare services remained normal. RIMS sources claimed that the agitating nurses administered medicines, injections and took care of the patients, but did not maintain any record in the registers.

Junior doctors told The Telegraph that the pen-down strike would not affect the health services as the nurses were doing their basic job. “Some permanent senior nurses are maintaining the registers. But healthcare will take a beating from Friday if the nurses ultimately decide to go on a indefinite strike,” said a junior medico.

When contacted, officiating director of RIMS Dr S.K. Choudhary said he had tried his level best to prevent the strike. “I requested them to keep away from strike till July 28. I cannot comment anything more.”

Basant Kumar, a relative of a patient from Kamre admitted to the orthopaedic ward, said, “We are worried because a patient’s recovery largely depends on nursing. Relatives can administer oral medicines but who will give injections and intravenous doses?”

Ramrekha told The Telegraph that the health department had published ads in 2000, indicating 516 vacant posts before Rajendra Medical College and Hospital (RMCH) was renamed as RIMS and made an autonomous body.

“Around 400 nurses had joined and got posted at RMCH then. In December 2001, the then governing body declared those 516 posts as approved posts of RMCH. Despite the approval, we were kept on contract and it continues till date,” she said.

When RMCH became RIMS in 2002, nurses were once again kept on contractual job.