(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa instructed the Minister of Health Pavithra Wanniarachchi Wednesday to re-employ retired nurses on contract basis as needed, the Prime Minister’s Office said.
The Prime Minister made this observation at a meeting held at Temple Trees yesterday to discuss issues in the nursing service at the request of the chairman of the Public Services United Nurses Union Chief Sangha of the Western Province, Ven. Murutthettuwe Ananda Nayaka Thera.
About 34,000 nurses are currently employed islandwide and the purpose of this meeting was to discuss short term and long term solutions and suggestions to the problems they are currently facing.
At the meeting, Ven. Murutthettuwe Ananda Nayaka Thera expressed his views on increasing the allowances and facilities provided to nurses. He also pointed out the use of untrained nurses in the Intensive Care Unit of the Kotelawala Defense University and the Neville Fernando Hospital.
The Minister of Health Pavithra Wanniarachchi stated that this situation has arisen due to the fact that at present there are less than 2000 nurses being recruited for training per year.
The Prime Minister instructed to add the period unskilled nurses currently working in these units to their training period. In addition, the Prime Minister called for the introduction of short-term training programs for the Intensive Care Unit.
Secretary to the Ministry of Health SH Munasinghe said that 840 nurses have already been given short term training in intensive care units and an accelerated training program will be implemented for nearly 1000 more.
The Prime Minister instructed the Minister of Health to re-employ retired nurses on contract basis as required and inquired about the current status of the work of extending the tenure of nurses.
Secretary to the Ministry of Health SH Munasinghe revealed that the Cabinet Memorandum to extend the tenure of nurses to 63 years has been submitted to the Cabinet for approval.
The Prime Minister recalled that all the health workers were doing an excellent job in the face of the Covid epidemic and asked the Secretary to the Ministry of Health about their vaccination program.
Secretary to the Ministry of Health, said that almost everyone in the health sector has been vaccinated against Covid and vaccinating their families with the second dose has started.
The Prime Minister also instructed the officials to formulate a proper system for providing transport facilities to the nurses during the travel restriction period.
The Prime Minister also instructed the Minister of Health to take necessary steps to expedite the process of awarding the degree of Nursing.
It was revealed at this meeting that the task of awarding the degree of Nursing has been referred to the Attorney General’s Department for drafts and it was decided at this meeting to take necessary steps to submit the relevant draft to Parliament expeditiously.
Ven. Murutthettuwe Ananda Nayaka Thera said that the allowance for nurses’ uniforms had not been increased after the Prime Minister had increased it during his tenure as President, and requested that the allowance be increased. The Prime Minister said that a common decision in this regard could be taken in the forthcoming budget.
Gamini Senarath, Secretary to the Prime Minister, SR Attygalle, Secretary to the Ministry of Finance, Dr. Asela Gunawardena, Director General of Health Services, and HAD Kalyani, General Secretary of the Public Service United Nurses Association, and other members of the union were also present at the discussion.