MUMBAI: Nurses, the lifeline in the patient-care system, may no longer be underpaid.
The plight of the private sector nurses can be imagined from the fact that they barely take home a fraction of what nurses in the government sector earn. Arun Kadam, executive president of Maharashtra State Nurses Association, said, “Many in the private sector take home Rs 2,500-6,000 a month. Even housemaids get paid more.” Senior nurses in state-run institutions earn around Rs 80,000 a month, said Maharashtra Government Nurses Federation representatives.
The new recommendation covers every healthcare facility—from stand-alone hospitals to tiny nursing homes to large chains and brands. The first recommendation is that the base wage will be a minimum of Rs 20,000 a month.
In case of 50- to 100-bed hospitals, the salary “should not be more than 25% less” in comparison to state government nurses, recommended the committee. Mid-sized hospitals with 100 to 200 beds must “not pay more than 10% less” in comparison to state hospital nursing staff. Larger centres with 200 beds or more must pay salaries on a par with state government nurses, depending on their grades and experience.
The committee’s recommendations follow a long-drawn court battle for better working conditions for nurses in private hospitals. In January, the Supreme Court directed the Centre to set up a committee to investigate the living conditions and salary structure of nurses employed in private hospitals and nursing homes.
In its report, the committee said, “Their pay and working conditions is really pathetic and some steps are required to be taken to uplift the standard of working conditions in respect of nurses.” The panel has accordingly defined working conditions for nurses as well. “Work hours, transportation, medical facilities and accommodation too must be on a par with the facilities enjoyed by nurses in government hospitals,” said the committee report.
Maharashtra Nursing Council president Dr Ramling Mali said, “This is a good move by the Supreme Court and the Central government to give justice to the nurses. But the state government, on its part, must amend the Bombay Nursing Home Registration Act and the Maharashtra Nurses Act, 1966, for the remuneration to paid to nurses in the private sector.”
A senior nurse from a south Mumbai hospital said that salaries in the private sector had improved in the last five years, but are nowhere near the government scales. “Private hospitals charge a bomb from patients, but never give their nurses a better deal,” she said.
The new recommendation covers every healthcare facility—from stand-alone hospitals to tiny nursing homes to large chains and brands. The recommendations are as follows:
Wages of nurses in hospitals with more than 200 beds should be on par with that of nurses in government hospitals in the respective states.
Wages of nurses in hospital with more than 100 beds should not be less than 10 percent of the salaries of nurses in corresponding government hospitals.
Wages of nurses in hospitals with 50-100 beds should not be less than 25 percent of the salaries of nurses in corresponding government hospitals.
In hospitals with less than 50 beds, the minimum wages of nurses should be fixed at Rs 20,000.
Work hours, transportation, medical facilities and accommodation too must be on a par with the facilities enjoyed by nurses in government hospitals,” the committee has also noted.