Nurses refuse to take doctors’ instructions

Labour room tussle takes turn for worse

By Don Asoka Wijewardena

Public Service United Nurses’ Union (PSUNU) Vice President D. Boralessa yesterday warned the government that around 26,000 nurses, matrons and sisters attached to the PSUNU throughout the country would neither work in wards nor take orders from doctors with effect from today in protest of the cancellation of midwifery training for nurses.

Special Grade and Grade 1 nurses would keep away from administrative duties and refrain from assisting doctors, Boralessa said.

The PSUNU had held several discussions with the Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena and Health Secretary Dr. Nihal Jayathilaka over the issue, but in vain, Boraless said. According to their service minute nurses were supposed to obtain further education in patient management, including midwifery training. But, the GMOA had disregarded that requirement, he added.

The PSUNU Vice President said that even the Health Ministry, due to pressure from the GMOA, had been trying to gloss over the issue. It was a conspiracy, he stressed.

Boralessa said the state health sector should not be the GMOA’s monopoly. "We have no alternative but to launch the proposed trade union action which will cripple the entire health care system," Boralessa stressed, adding that nurses regretted inconvenience their trade union action caused to patients but that was the only way they could send a strong message to the government and the doctors who were violating their rights.

GMOA General Committee member Dr. Navin de Soyza, contacted for comment, said that the PSUNU had warned that the nurses belonging it would not follow the instructions given to them by the doctors on patient management. It was totally illegal for nurses not to follow doctors’ instructions. The midwives were being trained by VOGs and some senior matrons. And the VOGs were in favour of the midwives.

Asked whether the medical services in the hospitals would be affected by the nurses’ strike, Dr. Soyza said that the GMOA had asked doctors to use the available resources to maintain the services.

Health Secretary Dr. Nihal Jayathilaka said the Health Ministry would handle the situation impartially with a view to setting the dispute.

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