Nurses being paid nominal salaries by private hospitals: NNC

Published On: January 28, 2017 08:02 AM NPT By: Bishnu Prasad Aryal

Montlhly pay of nurses a little more than Rs 3,000

KATHMANDU, Jan 28:  While Nepal marked the Nurses Day on Friday, nurses working in private hospitals of the country are forced to work for nominal salaries, depriving them of the basic pay scales of government hospitals.

“The nurses’ contribution has not been respectfully regarded in the private hospitals of the country,” said Laxmi Rai, registrar at the Nepal Nursing Council (NNC).

There are 109 government hospitals with 5,271 beds in total and 154 private hospitals with capacity of 7,394 beds across the country. Data provided by the Ministry of Health shows that 9,311 posts for nursing staff have been sanctioned across the country for a total of 3,991 government-run health institutions including hospitals, primary health centers and health posts.

According to the NNC, there are a total of 67,905 nursing work force including 39,786 nurses, 27,296 ANM (Auxiliary Nurse Midwife), and 823 foreign nurses registered with the NNC. Among them, only 10,914 nurses and 5,410 ANM have renewed their licenses. The NNC estimates that some 10,000 nurses have left the country for lucrative jobs abroad.

About 40,000 nursing staff are involved in the private health sector at present, according to the Association of Private Health Institutions of Nepal (APHIN). 

The nurses working in the government hospitals are paid basic salary of about Rs 19,000 per month while the nurses in private sector are paid only a little more than Rs 3,000 per month, according to the officials at the NNC. In course of monitoring carried out by the Department of Health Services (DOHS), many private hospitals were found paying Rs 5,000 to Rs 7,000 monthly to the nurses.

“Some are even forced to work unpaid in the private hospitals,” said Rai. “This scenario indicates that the nurses in the private hospitals face hard times but they do not dare to reveal it publicly,” she added.

“I get only Rs 8,000 per month,” said a nurse working in Norvic Hospital of Kathmandu, one of the expensive private hospitals of the country, requesting anonymity. “The treatment costs in the private hospitals are twice or manifold expensive than the government hospitals,” she added. 

Hom Raj Dahal, general secretary of APHIN, the umbrella organization of private hospitals, admitted that the nurses in private hospitals are paid very low as compared to the government hospitals. “We have made rules to pay nurses from Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 monthly as we are unable to pay the same amount that the government hospitals pay due to financial constraints,” said Dahal. “However, we have not thoroughly monitored the private hospitals’ payment to the nurses.”

At a time when the private hospitals have exploited the nurses pathetically, the government has not taken any step to curb the discriminatory practice.

NNC registrar Rai said that the Ministry of Health is responsible to streamline them by formulating necessary regulation and guidelines for the equal pay. 

Shakuntala Prajapati, senior nursing officer at the DoHS, said that they could do nothing in the absence of laws. 

“Our laws do not speak about pay scale of nurses and health workers in private hospitals,” she added. “The state should formulate comprehensive laws regarding it.”
Nursing practice began in Nepal along with establishment of Bir Hospital in 1947 BS (1889 AD). Doctors and compounders themselves used to nurse the patients in the beginning at Bir Hospital. Professional nurses started working at the hospital ten years later.

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