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Nurses strike threat triggers panic

More than 350 contractual nurses working at Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Ranchi, are likely to go on an indefinite strike from Thursday midnight to mount pressure on the government for regularising their posts, triggering panic to the extent that patients are requesting doctors for discharge.

Confirming it, Dr JK Mitra of the medicine department said, “I have released four patients who sought discharge on Thursday. I have changed the intravenous to oral medicines of those patients. They have recovered, but if they had stayed here for two more days, the conditions would have been better. Besides, there are some patients who have to be administered intramuscular and intravenous medicines. They are worried by this nurses’ strike, but we, too, are helpless.”

Dr Shashi Bala Singh of gynaecology department, however, fears that patients’ care will take a beating. “It will be very difficult to carry out operations without the nurses. What I am worried about is how the system will function because both doctors and nurses together work as a team. Doctors diagnose and prescribe medicines, whereas nurses extend the caring support,” she added.

Asked whether any patient has approached her for early release, she said, “Surgical cases are delicate. Recovery of surgical cases is time bound and those patients will have to stay here till we cut the stitches.”

Allaying all fears, officiating director of RIMS Dr S.K. Choudhary said that the management has made alternative arrangements.

“The nursing students will carry out the duties for the time being,” he said.

Asked about efficiency of the students, he added, “Well, at a time when we are forced to run the show, we will have to make such stop-gap arrangements.”

But, doctors are unlikely to avail such “stop-gap arrangements”.

“I am not going to take any help from the students. I will see the situation tomorrow (Friday) and then decide whether to re-schedule surgeries or ask patients to go to other hospitals. I am not ready to take any risk,” said a doctor on the condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, the nurses are adamant to go on strike and said that they would not listen to any assurances.

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.

“We have heard that state health minister Rajendra Prasad is again likely to talk to us. We are not ready to listen to assurances. We want written orders,” said Ramrekha Rai, president of RIMS Contractual Nurses’ Union.