Appointing new nurses has not solved shortage in CMC

By Dilanthi Jayamanne

More than 1,880 nurses have recently received their letters of appointment from the Health Ministry, but the Public Health Department of the Colombo Municipal Council faces a severe dearth of trained nurses at its six maternity homes and health clinics.

PHD Chief Dr. Pradeep Kariyawasam said yesterday that there was a grave shortage of nurses in the PHD, which provided healthcare services within the city. The department needed at least an additional 30 nurses; there were only 14 at present.

Dr. Kariyawasam said that the PHD had staggered the services provided by the CMC as one maternity home in Kirula had to be shut down. Currently, the maternity homes in Mutwal, New Bazaar and Bandaranaike Mawatha were functioning, while the maternity homes at Jinthupitiya and Maligawatte had been closed for renovations.

There were times when one or two nurses had to run maternity homes besides working at prenatal, post natal, maternal and preschool clinics in the city. At least four nurses should be rostered in each maternity home, but one or two nurses handled all services. The nurses were overworked, Dr. Kariyawasam said.   

The PHD chief said that the situation was bound to worsen once the two maternity homes closed for renovations were reopened. The CMC had been writing to the Health Ministry urging it to allocate more nurses but in vain, he said.

The Health Ministry spokesman, when contacted, said that nurses were allocated to the Provincial Councils and not to the local government authorities. It was the Provincial Council which should allocate to the local government bodies the nurses needed as they were paid by them.

However, Dr. Kariyawasam opined that it was the Health Ministry which was responsible for training and awarding of nursing diplomas.

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