Mahamodera strike by nurses stretches to third day with no solution in sight

By Dilanthi Jayamanne 


The Public Service United Nurses Union (PSUNU) amidst rumours that its strike at Mahamodera hospital had led to the death of a new born infant,  warned they would continue with their strike today (15) as well.

 PSUNU Administrative Secretary Dayananda Boralessa said the strike was not against the government or the Health Ministry, but the inefficient hospital administration.  Neither the Health Minister nor the President however seemed to be interested in resolving the issue which had tarted off as a protest and subsequently evolved into a full- fledged strike on Thursday (13).

The union’s grievances include the transfer of a nursing sister in charge of the hospital ICU following her return from a month’s training in Singapore, lack of sanitation facilities and issues related to nurses’ allowances and nursing rosters. He said the most recent issue was the transfer of a nursing sister from the ICU after her return from a special training in Singapore. The only remedy for all those issues was to remove the hospital administrator, he said. 

Boralessa said that the Mahamodera Teaching Hospital was one of the largest in the Southern Province which carried out over 30 to 40 deliveries daily. It also performed about 30 caesarean sections a day and the number come down to 15 due to the strike. The hospital has 275 nurses. Only emergencies were being maintained while some of its pregnant mothers were transferred to the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital during the strike. He appealed to Health Minister Dr Rajitha Senaratne to take urgent action to resolve the issue.

Asked to comment on the reports that the nurses’ strike had led to the death of a newborn, Boralessa said the doctors had warned the mother concerned that they would not be able to save the baby’s life.

Hospital sources, however, said that P. A.  Deepika Samanmali had lost her new-born amidst the prevalent chaotic situation at the hospital.

Meanwhile, President of the Government Nursing Officers’ Association (GNOA), Saman Ratnapriya said that nurses had never resorted to strike in any of the hospitals designated for women, children and cancer and nephrology patients before. He said that was the reason why his union had not joined the strike. However, timely action on the part of some of the Health Ministry officials would have settled the issue, he said.

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