After 4 months without stipends, nurses lose patience


A large number of staff nurses and students of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) School of Nursing boycotted wards and classes on Wednesday and staged a protest demonstration demanding that their four months’ stipends and house allowances be paid to them.
The nurses attended their duties and classes in the morning, but later they left and gathered in the building of the School of Nursing. To restrict them from entering the building, the JPMC administration ordered its security personnel to shut the main gate and deployed heavy contingents of police and Rangers there.
But the nurses managed to go past them by breaking a portion of the main gate and rushed to the JPMC executive director’s office, where they chanted slogans, demanding his removal and immediate release of their stipends.
“We believe that after the 18th Amendment, under which all healthcare institutions were devolved, the JPMC administration does not want to work under the provincial government and that is why it has holding back our stipends so that we start protesting and it can justify its stance,” a nurse told Pakistan Today on the condition of anonymity. “But we will not be part of this conspiracy,” the nurse added.
The nurses ended their protest after three hours when JPMC Executive Director Dr Tasneem Ahsan met with their leaders and assured them that their salaries will be released soon.
“The JPMC executive director has still not made it clear when our stipends will be released and if we do not receive our stipends until Thursday (today), we will cordon off the Sindh Secretariat as well as the Sindh Assembly building,” the nurses said.
There are 190 students in the first, second and third year classes at the School of Nursing and each student is given Rs 6,800 as monthly stipend.
Most of the nurses belong to other provinces and are unable to meet the expenses of living in the without their stipends.
“It is the holy month of Ramazan in which routine expenditures are twice than normal. However, the nurses have been carrying on without receiving their stipends for four months,” said a nurse belonging to Lahore.
The JPMC administration has not also released special allowances for the nurses employed in the intensive care units, emergency ward and operation theatres.
“We have also not been given house rent allowances for 20 months. These allowances are meant for nurses who have come here from other provinces,” said a nurse.
JPMC Public Relation Officer Ameer Hussain confirmed that the nurses have not given stipends for four months and pinned the blame on the Sindh government.
“The provincial government has not issued the budget for the JPMC and that is why we are unable to pay stipends to nurses as well as the salaries of doctors and other hospital staff,” Hussain said.
He also confirmed that the nurses have also not received special allowances and house rent allowances for 20 months. “The Sindh government had recently issued Rs 4.5 million to the hospital, but the outstanding amount comes up to Rs 30 million. How can we pay them their allowances,” he added.
But the nurses contended the administration’s claim by saying that the stipends have not been paid for four months, whereas the hospital was handed over to the provincial government in July.
“By the time the hospital was the part of the federal government till June, they were receiving all the funds. Then why did it stop paying our stipends during those months. We believe that it is a conspiracy and the JPMC administration wants us to protest so that it can stance that the hospital should not be run by the provincial government. But we will not be a part of this conspiracy and soon start a movement for the removal of the JPMC executive director,” said the nurses.
JPMC Executive Director Dr Tasneem Ahsan refused to comment on the issue. “The provincial health secretary has strictly prohibited us from talking to the media. Therefore, I cannot say anything on the matter,” she said.