The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Nurses on contract to fill void

Calcutta, Feb. 3: The government has decided to appoint 500 trained nurses on contract, bypassing the employment exchange, in a desperate bid to fill up vacancies in nursing posts in hospitals across the state.

The decision to appoint nurses on contract — for the first time in the state — will be placed before the Cabinet at its meeting on Wednesday.

Health department sources said about 1,000 posts for personnel trained in general nursing and midwifery are lying vacant, largely because of an embargo on fresh appointments by the cash-starved government.

“About 3,000 nurses were sitting idle after clearing the general nursing and midwifery exams but we could not employ them because of the embargo. Now, we need nurses badly and so the decision to take 500 nurses on renewable one-year contracts,” said director of health services Prabhakar Chatterjee.

It is mandatory to appoint personnel in government establishments through the exchange but the health department has already obtained a special permission from the labour department.

In a continuing bid to rev up the healthcare set-up in the state, the government has decided to set up pathological laboratories in 98 sub-divisional hospitals in collaboration with private partners and NGOs.

The move follows repeated reports on the lack of infrastructure in rural and suburban hospitals to carry out pathological tests. “Unable to address the problem concerning pathological tests in the district hospitals, we decided to enter into joint ventures with prospective private agencies and NGOs,” said Chatterjee.

The department, he added, has already issued advertisements in newspapers inviting applications from private parties by February 28. “Those selected will be provided built-up space inside rural hospitals to set up the laboratories. However, they will have to conduct tests of at least 20 per cent of the patients referred to by the hospital authorities free of cost,” Chatterjee said.

The test centres will have to operate round-the-clock, health sources said.

Officials said NGOs working in the districts would be roped in to assist the private agencies engaged in overseeing the laboratories.

“The aim is to provide a 24-hour service to the patients from far-flung villages so that they get reports of the tests prescribed by the hospitals within the same day,” the officials added.

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