The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has released draft guidelines based on the WHO report ‘Human Resources for Health: Workforce 2030’ to govern the working conditions of nurses. The ministry is inviting public comments on these guidelines, and the comment period will last for one month from the date of publication.
To provide a summary of the draft guidelines, they are divided into four sections:
Workplace facilities & safety:
- Nursing staff should receive annual health check-ups, necessary immunizations, and access to hospital services within the healthcare establishments they work.
- Healthcare establishments must ensure adequate infrastructure and well-equipped workstations in all units/wards to support efficient functioning of nursing staff.
- Separate washrooms and changing rooms should be provided for nursing staff, along with drinking water, pantry facilities, lockers, and clean uniforms.
- Designated resting rooms should be identified for nurses working for extended periods.
- Occupational hazards should be prevented according to standard operating procedures, and appropriate safety norms should be implemented.
- Personal protective equipment should be provided free of cost to all nurses.
- Healthcare establishments should provide creche facilities in compliance with the provisions of the ‘Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017.’
- Accommodation for nursing staff within or near the hospital premises should be considered, if feasible.
- Internal complaint committees should be established in healthcare establishments as per the provisions of the ‘Protection of Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2013.’
- Time-bound mechanisms should be established for addressing workplace-related grievances.
- Measures should be taken to promote a healthy and safe work environment and prevent mental and physical violence against nurses.
- Necessary measures should be implemented to ensure the security of nurses during night shifts, including adequate lighting in and around work settings.
Working hours & staffing:
- Nurses’ normal work hours should not exceed forty (40) hours per week and eight (8) hours per day unless exigencies require otherwise.
- Compensatory day-offs can be provided for nurses working overtime during exigencies.
- Duty rosters should be prepared in advance and communicated to nurses, who should seek prior approval for any changes in duty or leave.
- Flexible working hours and shift duties may be promoted in healthcare establishments.
- Nurses should be posted in their areas of specialization and interest whenever possible to maximize their professional knowledge and expertise.
- Routine transfer/rotation of nurses from high-demand settings to low-demand settings should be practiced to prevent fatigue and exhaustion.
- Adequate numbers of qualified, trained, and competent nurses should be provided in every ward/unit of healthcare facilities, following approved standard norms.
- Safe staffing levels should be promoted by posting sufficient support staff according to the patient load.
Promoting nursing leadership:
- Regular staff development programs and in-service training should be conducted to enhance professionalism, leadership, communication, and managerial skills among nurses.
- Nurses should have a fair opportunity to actively participate in the triaging of patients in emergencies and counseling of patients in wards, enabling their involvement in the decision-making process for patient treatment.
- Nurses should have a say in decisions related to their work.
- Induction training should be provided to all newly recruited nurses to familiarize them with various hospital departments, facilities, guidelines, and standard operating procedures.
- Newly recruited nurses should be placed under the mentorship of senior nurses for a minimum of one month to acquaint them with all protocols and procedures before independent duties.
- Paid maternity leave as per the ‘Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017,’ and other authorized leave/allowances and facilities should be provided.
- Equal opportunities should be provided to all nurses for in-service/higher nursing education and research.
- Supportive work environments should be provided in healthcare establishments, fostering teamwork to improve patient-related outcomes.
- Well-being measures for nurses, such as yoga, meditation, and counseling services, should be promoted.
- Fair remuneration based on qualification and experience should be implemented in healthcare establishments.
- Initiatives should be taken to recognize outstanding nurses and maintain the morale and motivation of nursing staff.
It is important to note that these guidelines are in draft form and open for public comments. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare encourages individuals and organizations to provide their feedback and suggestions on the guidelines. Comments can be sent to the ministry’s email address: email@example.com. The comment period will last for one month from the publication of the draft guidelines.
The final guidelines, taking into consideration public comments and expert inputs, will be issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to govern the working conditions of nurses, ensuring their well-being and promoting quality healthcare services.