By P. Koshy
The private sector hospitals in India offer abysmally low salaries to their staff nurses. Often they get much less than the minimum wages. Their compensationis notat par even with the farm wages and MGNRE rates, in most cases. There are also cases where private hospital managements force the nurses to deposit their nursing certificates as a condition to a job offer, a practice that’s followed nowhere other than in the Indian private medical sector.
The private healthcare sector provides services to fifty-two percent households in urban and forty four per cent households in rural areas. (Source: National Family Health Survey: http://rchiips.org/)
The salaries paid should be commensurate with their qualifications, skills, worth of services provided and experience. The principle of equity and fairness should not be ignored. Nurses too have a right to justice.
However, they are being exploited, for the one and only one reason that they are not organized and could easilybe subjugated. Their commitment and services are taken for granted and their rights are violated.
Can these nurses, who take care of fifty five percent urban and forty-four percent rural households, lead a decent life with these meager salaries?
A nurse’s compensation ranges between INR 5000 to 20000 in the private sector. The Supreme Court wanted the salary to be Rs 20,000 per month. But how many nurses in India get this pay? And the actual salary is much less in rural areas, towns/semi-urban hospitals. There are many cases where they earn Rs. 5000 or less, much less than even the prescribed MGNRE rate. (Gazette notification dated 28 Feb 2017, No. SO666 (E))
Strict monitoring and vigilance are needed from the part of labor commissioners and other relevant organs of the ministry of labor. And further, the government and the labor ministry must intervene and address this issue by looking at some of the best practices with regard to nurses’ compensation both from India and around the world. They may bring out a new legislation covering all aspects and concerns. Compensation legislation for the medical professionals, particularly nurses, is what many from the sector feel the need of the hour.
Mr. JomonCherian, Governing Body member at Rev. George MathenMemorial Mission Hospital, Mallappaly, Kerala, thinks that policymakers must consider the concept of “aided hospitals”. The same concept is prevalent in the education sector, where it is called as “aided schools”. Here the management builds the infrastructure and manage the institution while the staff salary is being taken care of by the government. This could significantly bring down treatment cost and would address compensation concerns, says Mr. Cherian.
The government should consider the feasibility of aided hospital where salaries of health workers – nurses, doctors and other paramedical staff in the private sector are provided by the government. Government aided private hospitals may be the next big reform in the Indian health sector!
Hope political parties, one by one,will promise this in the upcoming general election and include it in theirmanifestos! Prime Minister Modiji may consider this seriously as this would help any party, politically as well.
Nevertheless, nurses are slowly getting organized, a positive development indeed.
P. Koshy can be reached at <email@example.com>