Nurses’ protest cripples hospitals
Sick note campaign scheduled for Nov. 10

by Dasun Edirisinghe

A three-hour protest by nurses yesterday morning brought hospital services to a grinding halt.

Nurses are opposing the new draft of Nursing Minute prepared by the Health ministry.

The protest was organised by the Government Nursing Officers Association. Its president, Saman Ratnapriya, said the protest was a big success, but, if the government failed to grant their demands, all nurses would launch a sick note campaign on Nov. 10.

Ratnapriya said" "We held our main protest opposite the Colombo National Hospital’s Bandaranaike Building. The protests at the provincial level were held in places like Karapitiya, Matara, Hambantota, Negombo, Jaffna, Muttur, Batticaloa and Moneragala and they were all successful" Ratnapriya said.

He said several surgical operations too had been postponed due to the protest.

However, nurses involved in emergency, maternity and pediatric services did not take part in the protest.

The draft of the amendments to 1984 Service Minute of Nurses, prepared by the Health Ministry, would be presented to the Cabinet without the GNOA’s proposals. Nurses allege that the changes effected by the government to the Minute are aimed at satisfying the Government Medical Officers’ Association, Rathnapriya said.

He said that there was no mention of the nursing graduates. Ministry officials had agreed to extend the nurses’ training period to three and six months years but it had been reduced to three years and four months according to the draft amendments.

Rathnapriya said that about five per cent of those recruited for the nursing service were males and it had been agreed to increase that figure to 20 per cent. Yet, that had not been included in the draft, he said.

"As the second phase of the protest, we will launch a sick note campaign on Nov. 10 and will continue our protests if the government continues to disregard our justifiable demands," he said.

Health Ministry spokesman W. M. D. Wanninayake said that GNOA couldn’t disrupt the hospitals yesterday as it was not the biggest trade union in the health sector.


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