Local residents in Multan have protested against the lack of nursing staff at Nishtar Hospital.
Patients and their families said that at present the hospital had less than half of the required number of nurses on duty. “This is a top-ranking public sector hospital but the standard of patient care is falling rapidly,” said a patient Hafeez Kashif.
Hospital officials said that at present only three nurses were available for every 30 patients in each ward of the hospital. “Total number of nurses is 370 out of which 60 nurses are reserved for the emergency ward,” said nursing officer Razia Bibi. “The hospital officials are trying to cover up the truth. In fact there is probably one nurse to every 60 or 70 patients,” Kashif said.
There are no male nurses on hospital staff and female nurses are also in charge of assisting male patients. “We had six male nurses and one was on duty in each ward but they resigned over pay issues,” nurse Shireen said.
Hospital officials at the obstetrics ward said that an average of 70 women were admitted for labour daily but there were only four nurses in the entire ward.
“We have repeatedly put in requests for increasing staff but there aren’t enough nurses as it is,” said Shireen. “No labour room and gynae ward in the region is better equipped than the one at Nishtar Hospital but we are facing a severe shortage of nursing staff,” said Kaleem Asia Minhas, deputy nursing superintendent. She said they had sent a proposal for hiring 1,600 nurses through the Pakistan Nursing Council. “So far nothing has happened. Several nurses have handed in their notice because they have not gotten a pay increase,” she added. Gynae Operation theatre head Shamim Ismael called for hiring at least 500 nurses immediately. “The hospital is facing a crisis. We desperately need additional nursing staff or we may eventually have to shut down one ward,” she said. Head nurse Ms Gulzar pointed out lack of service structure for nurses. “Most nurses are working in the same grade for over two decades,” she said, adding “their pay scale hasn’t been revised and they haven’t been promoted. That is why so many are protesting and others are resigning.”
Kaleem Asia underlined establishing a daycare centre like in CMH, Mayo and Services hospitals, Lahore. When contacted, Nishtar Board of Management Chairman KhwajaJalauddin Roomi said they were already working on some proposals related to increasing nursing staff and hoped the situation would improve soon. APP
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2011.