Friday, 5 February 2016

Hospitals can no more ask nurses to sign a service bond and keep their certificates

Hospitals can no more ask nurses to sign a service bond and keep their certificates

Dr K K Aggarwal

The Supreme Court has recently directed the Centre to frame guidelines to regulate their working conditions and also consider fixing minimum wages for them. The health ministry has been asked to form a committee within a month to evaluate the working conditions of nurses. This committee is to submit its recommendations to the centre to frame guidelines.

A PIL has been filed by Indian Professional Nurses' Association. And as per the PIL, with no guidelines in place to regulate their service conditions, nurses were being as bonded laborers. The hospitals force the nurses to deposit their original certificates and to execute a personal bond, under the terms of which they could leave their jobs, only if they paid a large sum of money.

The bench said the present system of service bond and keeping of certificates by the hospitals must be done away with. The Indian Nursing Council has been directed to take effective steps in this regard. The Centre has been asked to intervene to address other problems faced by nurses.

Nurses in private hospitals are paid a mere pittance, they are paid an inadequate amount of money and as a result, many nurses migrate to UK, USA, or UAE and other countries for better opportunities and better pay scales. This has led to a considerable shortage of nursing staff for patients in India.

As per Indian Nursing Council (INC) norms, the nurse-patient ratio should be 1:3 for general wards in medical colleges and 1:5 for district hospitals, one in each clinic room of the OPD and 1:1 in ICU, ICCU and other critical care areas.

It has been shown that a poor nurse-patient ratio leads to poor quality of nursing care for the patients and adds to workloads of nursing staff, which may again impact safe and effective patient care.

This is a welcome step from the Supreme Court and will only enhance delivery of health services to the patients.

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