GNOA suspends strike for one week

Nurses to withdraw from admin duties

By Dilanthi Jayamanne

President of the Government Nursing Officers’ Association Saman Rathnapriya yesterday announced the suspension of their strike action for seven days from today.

However, the nursing staff of the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital would continue their union action as there was an administrative dispute allegedly caused by Director General of Health Services.

Midwives attached to the Kurunegala used to report to work under the nurses but following a recent verbal instruction from the Director General Health Services, the midwives have commenced to sign in on a different register, Rathnapriya said adding that until that dispute was solved the nursing staff members of the Kurunegala hospital would stay away from work.

The GNOA decided to suspend the strike action considering the plight of the patients but not because the Treasury Secretary had appointed a committee under the instruction of Secretary to the Ministry of Health, he said.

Rathnapriya said the particular committee would be given seven days to bring about solutions for the grievances of the nurses, otherwise there would be no other means but to resume the strike.

Nursing unions launched a strike action last Thursday and continued it till yesterday demanding that they be provided with the opportunity to undergo midwifery training.

The largest nurses union PSUNU called off their strike yesterday.

The PSUNU yesterday warned its members would withdraw from administrative duties from today (06) in protest against alleged comments made by the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) regarding the nursing service.

Chief of the PSUNU, Ven. Muruttetuwe Ananda Thera said nurses would not sign the register and the tutorial staff in nurses training schools would withdraw from teaching. Nurses in charge of wards and special units would also withdraw their services, he said, warning that nurses would refrain from accompanying doctors on their ward rounds.

PSUNU Vice President and Organiser for the Southern Province, D. Boralessa said the union had decided to continue with the strike following derogatory statements made by the GMOA President and its media spokesman regarding the midwifery training programme for nurses.

An irate Boralessa accused doctors of interfering in affairs which should be settled by the Health Ministry.

Meanwhile GMOA Spokesman, Dr. Naveen de Soysa, said that the GMOA had nothing against professional development. However it should not cause an issue such as the one that had erupted with nurses trying to grab the duties of the midwifery service.

Dr. Soysa said that doctors with the help of other hospital staff and midwives were carrying out the duties of the nurses so that patients would not be inconvenienced. Responding to a question he said that inward patients tended to feel a bit insecure due to the absence of ward nurses. They found it a bit unnerving as they look to the nurse to voice their complaints while hospitalized, he said.

The Director of the National Hospital, Dr. Anil Jasinghe said that doctors and the remaining hospital staff had been able to minimise the inconvenience caused to patients. There were also nurses serving in theatres and Hospital ICUs in civil clothes assisting in patient care, he added.

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