A group of nurses at the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital held a protest on Tuesday by boycotting two hours of duty. Nurses belonging to the Kerala Government Nurses Union protested outside the hospital seeking allotment of proper leave after being on continuous duty for a week. The nurses alleged that even after continuous duty for seven days they are not allotted leave. Earlier nurses were given a few days of leave after continuous COVID-19 duty for 10 days.
The nurses also said that they are not given enough time to remain in quarantine even though the number of COVID-19 cases are rising. Earlier, 14 days of quarantine was allowed after a continuous seven day-and-night shift, but that has now been reduced to just one day. The nurses raised the concern that many among them are testing positive for coronavirus. Also, nurses who test negative have to re-join duty even though they have many other related health complications. The nurses claim they are affected by other physical ailments due to lack of proper rest.
Nurses on duty in the emergency department did not participate in the protest. The nurses’ association had informed them that this was a token protest and that they might opt for an indefinite strike if their demands are not met. This is the third time that the nurses are protesting against the hectic duty schedules.
Last month, a group of doctors at the hospital had protested opposing the suspension of a senior faculty member, who is also the hospital’s COVID-19 Nodal Officer. The officer was suspended after it was found that a bedridden person who had recovered from COVID-19 was neglected while he was undergoing treatment at the hospital. The patient’s relatives had found maggots on his body after they took him home after his discharge.
At that time, the doctors had alleged that shortage of staff was resulting in poor patient care. They also alleged that health workers at the hospital were under tremendous stress for several months. The nurses’ association had also expressed concerns about tight schedules, lack of leaves, and shortage of staff.