Health Ministry lapse cause nurses shortage

by Dilanthi Jayamanne

The Public Service United Nurses Union (PSUNU) warned of a severe shortage of nurses in the country till 2014 owing to the delay in intakes for training last year. Administration Secretary PSUNU, Hector Francis said yesterday that the dearth would occur as the Ministry had failed to recruit nursing trainees on time last year.

Francis said that it had finally been due last December when over 2,000 nursing trainees were recruited. The 2008 nursing batch passed out in February last year by which time the Ministry should have had the next intake in place. However the Ministry waited till December to recruit nursing trainees. The lapse would only pressurise the nurses who are in service at present. They would find it difficult to apply for transfers under any circumstances, he said.

The December 2011 batch would only pass out in 2014. The severe shortage would mostly be felt in the North and East Hospitals as the education in the areas had suffered during the conflict. The Health Ministry had taken steps to recruit two hundred nurses from the areas for training as well, The PSUNU Administration Secretary said. He said that a majority of the nurses serving in the North and East were from the Southern parts of the country.

They too were reluctant to serve in the areas due to the lack of facilities available to them. The nursing quarters, sanitary facilities were issues that were faced by them whilst serving in the North and East and that was the main reason they were reluctant to serve in these areas.

Francis said the situation was much the same in rural hospitals as well. However due to the shortage of nurses they are forced to stay and serve in them. The government also upgraded several hospitals in all parts of the island following the end of the War. The inadequacy of nurses to serve in theatres, ICUs and OPD in these hospitals had placed hospital authorities in a tight spot. At present each nurse is required to carry out the duties and services of two three nurses, Francis said.

In 2001 the Health Ministry in Collaboration with the WHO had calculated that the number of nurses required to meet the demand as being over 40,000. However the country only had 26,000 nurses at present, he added.

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