After medical students, it is now the turn of nurses to agitate. They are up in arms over the state government’s failure to provide them with the jobs promised to them when they first joined nursing school, despite a rigorous three-year training.
But for the likes of Anuradha Sarkar, who passed out of a city medical college in 2000, and Anima De (class of 2001), life has become difficult as they are without steady incomes and take up odd jobs to eke out a living.
They are part of the 2,500-odd qualified but unemployed nurses’ sorority of the 2000, 2001 and 2002 batches. Some of them work for private nursing agencies, which dole out a meagre sum in return for 12 hours of duty in households.
These nurses have come together and planned a series of agitation programmes, under the banner of the All Bengal Nurses’ Action Forum (ABNAC). The forum made its debut with a massive rally on Rani Rashmoni Road around noon on Friday.
“When we first joined the three-year training programme, we were all promised jobs within three months. The months turned into a year, but we have been left high and dry. We met senior government officers, but all we got were assurances of help,” said Shanti Chatterjee, class of 2001, Chinsurah Imambara Hospital.
Apart from the medical colleges in the city, the district hospitals and the three outstation medical colleges also impart nursing training for three years, in which a trainee, who often comes from a poor background, ends up spending more than Rs 10,000-15,000 for basic training. After passing out, at least 50 to 60 nurses per batch have no choice but to try their luck with private agencies.
Recently, representatives of the forum met director of health services Prabhakar Chatterjee for help. “Yes we are looking into the issue,” was all the director would say.
A forum spokesperson said although the nursing council stipulates the nurse-patient ratio should be around 1:5, “in reality, the figure is around 1:50 in some hospitals. The government, despite vacancies, is not giving the much-promised jobs to the trained nurses,” said Shantipriya Chatterjee, nurses’ forum member.
Senior nursing training school officers in three hospitals — Medical College, Nilratan Sirkar and SSKM — were unanimous on the issue of more staff. “We have learnt that the government, due to the acute financial crisis, cannot recruit more nurses at the moment,” said a nursing superintendent.
Most nurses, who are usually sanctioned against vacancies in various departments, have to take up jobs on the side, as several of them have to work in other departments like the outdoor department, which does not have nursing sanction.