KOCHI: More than 10 days after the protest of nurses began in the state demanding a wage hike, all the four associations of healthcare providers in the state have, for the first time, made a joint plea to the nursing community to refrain from the token strike planned for Tuesday.
In a joint statement, the Association of Healthcare Providers of India-Kerala (AHPI), Kerala Private Hospital Association (KPHA), Association of Advanced Speciality Healthcare Institutions (AASHI), Qualified Private Medical Practitioners Association (QPMPA) and the Catholic Healthcare Association Of India (CHAI) - representing most of the private hospitals in the state - said the proposed strike will adversely impact the healthcare service at a time when Kerala is facing a fever epidemic.
Till now, nurses have been undertaking relay protests at five districts including Kannur, Thrissur, Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram. But, they have not stayed away from duty.
“If the nurses go on strike, the private hospitals providing 70 per cent of the healthcare services in the state will not be in a position to admit any new patients and will be forced to discharge the admitted patients,” the statement said.
It said it will lead to an unavoidable increase in the number of patients in Government Hospitals bursting at the seams because of the fever epidemic.
“We would like to draw your attention to the current crisis confronting all of us. On the one hand, we are overwhelmed by a large influx of patients due to the fever epidemic and, on the other hand, the nursing agitation will adversely impact the care being provided to patients at this difficult period,” it said.
The healthcare sector employs over 1.65 lakh staff across the state and is among the largest job providers. Several new hospitals projects are being envisaged and it will increase the job opportunities, said the statement.
“We are among the largest skilled manpower exporters, both domestically and outside the country. We collectively take immense pride in the achievements of the health care workforce and their contribution to the state’s economy and also through medical tourism,” it said.
The four associations also claimed most of the hospitals in the state complied with the statutory norms regarding wages.
The hospital associations said they were sympathetic towards the need for a reasonable wage revision of the nurses. “All hospital associations have been actively collaborating with the state government/industrial relations committee to arrive at the newly revised minimum wages,” said the statement.
“During this process of discussion, deliberations and in view of the massive spurt in fever cases and other viral diseases in the state, nurses strike will cause distress to the public. Therefore, the hospital associations jointly appeal to the unions to refrain from the token strike planned on July 11, any unauthorised absence or continued strike and facilitate the government to arrive at the new minimum wages,” it stated.