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Wanted: 200 nurses, 150 cleaners for Hyderabad’s short-staffed Gandhi Hospital

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Two nurses were suspended after patients were allegedly administered expired drugs, but were they just scapegoats?
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“In the night, there are no nurses available in the first floor of the paediatric ward. If our children fall sick, we have to go to the emergency ward downstairs,” says Nikitha, whose daughter has been admitted in Gandhi Hospital for nearly a week for typhoid treatment.
Complaints like this one against the nurses at the government facility are frequent. After the incident on Saturday where 15 children in the hospital were taken ill, allegedly due to expired injections being given to them, two nurses were suspended by the hospital for negligence.
The hospital management or their higher-ups in the government meanwhile have taken no responsibility for allegedly storing expired vials of medicines, and has given no explanation for what exactly happened on Saturday.
The Telangana Director of Medical Education (DME) M Ramani told PTI, “An inquiry will be conducted tomorrow following allegations by some parents that expired injections were given. Two staff nurses have been suspended pending inquiry.”
They (parents) are alleging that “sisters” (nurses) have given injections that were expired, however, “It is not expired injections…what has been given is within expiry date only, but inquiry has to be conducted,” she added.
And the patients at Gandhi hospital have now claimed that the facilities in the wards are dismal. Their main complaint is that the nurses are hardly ever available, and that they have to go to the emergency ward to call them every time they need assistance.
While that sounds like complete neglect on the part of the staff, the nurses at the hospital have a different story to tell.
Every day, the Gandhi Hospital, which has a capacity of 1200 beds, caters to at least 2000 patients, the hospital’s Resident Medical Officer revealed. There are not enough nurses to cater to these patients with at least 200 vacancies in the nursing department alone. The duty nurses therefore work overtime on a daily basis and are overloaded, she said.
“We attend to nearly 30 patients a day. We have been asking for more staff but there has been no new recruitment so far,” one of the nurses said.
She added, “We have been overloaded with work and we hardly get time for anything else. But still we work hard every day, but if anything goes wrong, we are the first to be blamed by patients.”
Ironically, the hygiene condition in the hospital is also poor, say patients.
“They don’t change the bedsheets for days, I had to bring a spare bedsheet,” said Nikitha. “The toilets, too, are in poor condition. Earlier, when we came to the hospital for my husband, I had to bribe the housekeeping staff to clean the ward,” she claimed.
And that, the hospital says, is also because of a shortage of staff.
“There are nearly 200 vacancy for nursing staff and 150 vacancy of sanitation workers, due to which it has become difficult for the hospital to manage the workload. We have planned to recruit more staff in this year to overcome the issue,” said R Seshadri, the hospital’s resident medical officer (RMO).
There are only 250 sanitation workers and 200 ward boys working in the hospital, while the required strength in each department is almost double, she added.
The RMO also says that the there is an acute shortage of security guards in the hospital, too, which makes it difficult for them to keep a vigil on visitors.
“There are more visitors than patients in the hospital. Naturally it will make the hospital premises dirty too, also, we have planned to keep a visitor’s timing for the people soon,” the RMO adds.
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