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Monday, 23 January 2012

Strikes make male nurses castaways

KOCHI: The strike by nurses across the country for better pay and other benefits seem to have taken a toll on the prospects of male nurses. Blaming them for inciting agitations, the private hospital managements are now ticking off the names of male nurses from their employee list. The worst-affected are those working in cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata.

Many of them from Kerala have already returned home as they had signed bonds giving the management the right to sack them without notice. The situation is no different in the state where male nurses add up to 5% of the total nursing population. Recently a multi-specialty hospital in the state capital advertised in the media with a footnote forbidding the male nurses from applying for vacancies. Two major hospitals in Kochi too have given red card to male nurses.

According to S V Biju, programme chairperson of Trained Nurses Association of India, Kerala branch, since almost all hospitals outside the state insist on signing bonds, many male nurses have lost their jobs after the strikes began. "There is a general notion that male nurses are instrumental in precipitating strikes," he said.

The nationwide strike had also made ripples in the state. Nurses from hospitals in Kollam, Kochi, and Thrissur agitated against exploitation by hospital managements. Last week, the nurses of Little Flower Hospital in Angamaly too came out in protest against the management's move to deny employment after training.

Sobin Jose, a resident of Cherthala who lost his job in a private hospital in Delhi, has looking for employment in the state. But the hospitals in state too are not keen in hiring male nurses. "I tried many hospitals in Kochi, but all private institutions now prefer female nurses," said Sobin. He is now trying for a job with the Co-operative Medical College. "If I do not succeed in that, I will try a job abroad," he said.

Many male nurses who were waiting for a job offer after clearing their interviews are now getting rejection slips from the hospital managements. For nursing students who spend Rs 4-6 lakh for their BSc nursing courses, this is bad news. The only alternative for them is to seek job in the government sector.

Meanwhile, the hospital managements in the state have denied any such discrimination. "We have not taken any decision against employing male nurses. In our meetings many said that male nurses are behind the strikes," said Husain Koya Thangal, state general secretary of the Kerala Private Hospitals' Association. He said that hospitals cannot do without male nurses as their services are required mainly in post-operative wards.


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