Nurses who served more than two years at the Maharagama Cancer Institute (MCI) will be transferred to the Angoda Mental Hospital and to the National Eye Hospital. This will be a continuous process. The Health Ministry said the decision had been taken on humanitarian grounds as requested by the nursing staff of the Institute.
The Health Ministry spokesman said yesterday (16) that nurses had stopped administering chemotherapy stating that they faced the risk of radiation. The Ministry had already sent twenty five additional nurses to Maharagama in a bid to reduce the work load of the present staff nurses. However, the Ministry said that it could not afford to pay a risk allowance of Rs. 10,000 due to financial constraints.
Four additional machines would also be provided to the Maharagama Cancer Institute (MCI) while a consultant chemotherapist will be brought down from Australia to provide expert training which they have been demanding.
The Vice President of the All Ceylon Nurses Union, (ACNU) Udita Wanigasekara said there were around two hundred nurses at the MCI who had served for more than five years. "Some have been here for over 12 years. What happens to them? Is it an ethical solution to transfer them after all this time? There is no point in sending new nurses to the MCI without training and providing necessary safety equipment. New nurses, too, would be subject to the same risk factor," he pointed out.
Wanigasekara said that it would not only be an injustice to the new nurses but also an injustice to cancer patients. "We are in a dilemma as to why the Minister took such a foolhardy decision on this issue. The Nurses who pulled out from administering chemotherapy for around two weeks recommenced duties gradually a week ago. However they have been giving chemotherapy to around 300 patients per day as opposed to the five hundred they handled earlier.
The ACNU said they had recommenced chemotherapy in Pediatric wards and the OPD. However, we are gradually increasing the numbers receiving chemotherapy in the wards as the resources available in them need to be developed, it said.