The Teaching Hospital, Jaffna, is faced with a general crisis stemming from the shortage of medical officers and nurses.
Director of the Hospital, Dr. T. Sathiyamoorthy said yesterday (23) that most nurses who were given appointments at the Hospital were from the Southern part of the country and those who completed their three-year stint at the Hospital had transferred back to the South.
Dr. Sathiyamoorthy said that steps could be taken to give appointments to senior nurses as well as a solution to the issue. At present, only first appointments were arriving in Jaffna. The appointments could be given on a rotational basis so that the Hospital does not receive only juniors.
He observed that the other issue was the shortage of nursing candidates from the Northern Province. Fewer candidates apply for nursing despite the fact that the North has two nursing schools in Jaffna and in Vavuniya.
He further observed that there was a drawback in the functioning of the two Nurses training schools during the 30-year conflict and also parents did not want to send their daughters for a nursing career.
However, the Health Ministry has continued to send nursing graduates from the South, he added.
Sources at the Nurses Training School in Jaffna when contacted said that it was a cultural drawback which had led to the situation. “Most Tamil families in the North do not like their daughters doing night duty, especially those of a marriageable age as they feel that it would hinder their family lives later on. However, the trend is gradually changing,” they said.
Sources said that there was more partiality on the part of those young women towards following paramedical courses.
There were however, male nurses in training, they said.
The Ministry several years back attempted to meet this shortage of nurses for Northern Province Hospitals by opening the doors of Nurses Training Schools for nurses from the General Certificate of Education Advanced Level (GCE A/L) Arts Stream as the war had affected the education of the Province and most students of the Province had not followed the Science Stream subjects for their GCE A/L during the conflict to be able to abide by the standards.
The Government at the time said that it had no choice but to recruit nurses from the Arts Stream only to serve in the Northern parts of the country. It pledged at the time to recruit them only to serve in Northern hospitals.
However, the Government Nursing Officers’ Association (GNOA) vehemently opposed the move at the time. When contacted for a comment on 21 March President of the Union, Saman Ratnapriya said that this time 100 nursing graduates were given appointments to the Teaching Hospital in Jaffna and other hospitals of the North, he noted.
Ratnapriya said the issue lay with the Hospital and the Northern Provincial Council which had not submitted cadre list to the Ministry to do the needful. In some cases the cadres were sent according to a list given in 2015. Even that had not been updated, he added.