Delhi High Court (HC) recently ordered the Delhi government to fix the minimum wages of nurses in hospitals having less than 50 beds, at ?20,000. The amount was fixed by an expert committee formed by the Centre following the Supreme Court’s order pertaining to minimum wage and working conditions of nurses in private hospitals.
The High Court had ordered that in hospitals with more than 200 beds, the nurses’ salaries should be at par with the salary paid to state government nurses for the corresponding grade(s). In hospitals with 100 to 200 beds, the private nurses should be paid not more than 10 per cent less compared to their counterparts at state government hospitals.
In case of 15-100 bed hospitals, the private nurses’ salaries should not be more than 25 per cent less compared to the salary of state-government nurses in the concerned state or union territory for the same or corresponding grade. Even in case of small hospitals with less than 50 beds, the salary paid to the private nurses should not be less than ?20,000 per month.
According to the Association of Healthcare Providers (India), currently private hospitals employ three to five times more nurses that the government hospitals, for the same number of beds. This means that the budget of the private hospitals will go up in proportion, making sustainability a huge challenge.
This sudden hike in the remuneration of nurses will cause healthcare workers in other categories to also demand a hike.
With corporate hospitals claiming that business is going down, an increment in the salary of nurses will make it difficult for them to sustain. The expenditure incurred in operating hospitals keeps on increasing as per inflation, but there is no way of increasing the rates or prices of medical procedures at the same pace. This makes survival very difficult for private hospitals who are already battling the falling reimbursement rates of insurance schemes.