Cancer Hospital nurses walk out in protest

The All Ceylon Nurses Union (ACNU) staged a walk out last morning and a picket at 12 noon at the Maharagama Cancer Institute (MCI) demanding the cancellation of their transfers. Fifty four nurses of the MCI were transferred to the National Hospital and the Angoda Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH).

ACNU Secretary Anura Jayamanna said yesterday (22) that the nurses of the Kandy and Kurunegala Hospitals, too, had  staged a two hour demonstration in support of the demand made by the nurses of the MCI. "Our demand was to remove or minimize the risk factor attached in administering chemotherapy but not to remove the experienced nurses and leave the risk factor endangering the new set of nurses to be transferred to the MCI.

Administering chemotherapy is a specialized job which even our nurses have still not mastered even after so many years of service. How does the Ministry expect a set of novices awaiting their first appointment adminiuster chemotherapy" he queried.

The Cytotoxic drugs have to be administered intravenously. A nurse has to know the art of finding the vain before administering to ensure that not even a bit of it flows out to the rest of the patients body," he explained. If even a little bit seeps out it could lead to a long term disaster ending up even in the amputation of the arm, Jayamanna said.

Vice President of the ACNU, Uditha Wanigasekara said the transfers were the Ministry’s way of taking revenge on those who had been instrumental in protesting against the risk attached to administering chemotherapy. He said all nurses had walked out in protest.

The ACNU held a picket on Monday (20) demanding the Health Ministry to cancel the transfer list and stick to the PSC regulations.

The Health Ministry when contacted said that the nurses were "out of line." They have nothing to complain about. They are the ones who asked for transfers on humanitarian grounds. Now And when they were transferred they see a problem in it, an annoyed Health Ministry official said. "We have agreed to just about everything they asked for, except the risk allowance. Economical constraints prevent the payment of risk allowances. "But the nurses stick to their pound of flesh and that’s what this is all about,"he said.

They have been given the machines, the extra nurses to reduce the work load, transfers on humanitarian grounds and the Ministry even agreed to bring down a foreign expert to train them, he said.

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