Pvt hospital managements urge Kerala govt to redress wage disputes of striking nurses

Peethaambaran Kunnathoor, ChennaiSaturday, March 3, 2012, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Against the backdrop of the ongoing strikes and agitations for minimum wages and better service conditions by the nurses unions in the private hospitals in Kerala, the Confederation of Private Hospitals Association (CPHA) has urged the government to redress the wage disputes on established norms rather than resorting to measures forcing the hospitals to shut down.

The Confederation, in a memorandum to the government, said forceful settlement of disputes will jeopardize the entire healthcare system in the state, severely affecting the rural areas.

The management associations informed the government that most of the private hospitals are paying salaries to the nurses higher than the prescribed minimum wages. Because of the ongoing strikes and the negative attitude of the government towards the hospitals, the morale and enthusiasm of the hospital managements is getting weakened. They said the managements have to  deal with the care of the infirm and the agitating caretakers. So the government should seriously consider measures to avoid the lightning strikes by the nursing staffs without putting the managements into a quandary.

When contacted the labour minister, Shibu Baby John, said the government’s decision is to implement the minimum wages for the nursing staff, and way back in 2009 the then government had issued a GO in this regard. To a question he said he has requested the hospitals to settle the issues through discussions with the nurses unions and added that government would not implement any stringent measures.

CPHA consisting six associations of hospital managements such as Qualified Private Medical Practitioners and Hospitals Association (QPMPA), Catholic Hospital Association of India (CHAI), Kerala Private Hospitals Association (KPHA), Kerala Voluntary Health Society (KVHS), Association of Advanced Speciality Healthcare Institutions (AASHI) and Christian Medical Association of India (CMAI) met the health minister and the labour minister on March 1 and apprised them of the grave situations prevailing in the hospitals where the strikes of staff nurses are on.

The members of the Confederation informed the ministers that a significant percentage of healthcare delivery in Kerala is effectively carried out by private hospitals and most of them are owned by doctors and doctors as partners. Majority of the hospitals are 50 bedded and located in rural areas catering to the small community around the hospitals within the affordable range of the community. Specialist services are also available in a commendable manner in rural areas which make the healthcare delivery system of the state a unique one, said a member of the Confederation.

The Confederation has alleged that the striking nurses are violating the rights of the patients.  The patients have the rights for treatments which should also be taken into account when the rights of the nurses to strike are considered. Further, the managements put a suggestion that government should adopt a Public Private Partnership Scheme by utilizing NRHM funds to help financial assistance to the healthcare centres in the private sector.

The strikes by the nurses unions do paralyse the emergency services of the hospitals apart from crippling the functioning of casualties.