Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Nurses strike – is it a question of Midwifery?

The people of Sri Lanka were severely inconvenienced in the last few days due to the Nurses strike. When one reads the reasons for the strike, it becomes clear that the opposing views are poles apart, but neither of which make sense and actually it is all about each profession trying desperately to protect their turf in light of normal pressures within society that make all these skills less than indispensible.

Take the Doctors and the main Union the GMOA, who have been the cause of most of the problem in the Sri Lanka health service. Then you have the professional body representing the Specialists in Obstetrics and Gynecology. The SLOGs. Then you have the Midwifery Union, and finally the Nurses who are represented by 3 different unions, with one that has a Buddhist Priest as its head.

It is stated that there are new rules in the Nursing profession that has been enacted that calls for training in Midwifery if a Nurse is to be promoted! Surely if I was a Nurse, I would wish to have this training too, so I will be very versatile. Can anyone rational find fault with that?

The midwife union does not want that so they strike, as their position becomes a little weaker if there are others who can perform their jobs in case they decide to be difficult. Then you have the doctors who don’t want it either, as they pompously believe delivery is part of their profession, and they have permitted midwife’s some leeway, in that task, so why should they allow more nurses the same privilege.

Finally comes the SLOGs, who see it as a threat to their profession as a whole. Hell I was delivered by a Nurse, not a midwife because the doctor could not come on time, so why shouldn’t they have the training, so that they can save lives in case of emergency. The SLOGS said today, that untrained people and student nurses will be trained in midwifery!!! Come on get a life. A student nurse should know about basic midwifery of cutting an umbilical cord in an emergency, when NO doctor or midwife is available.

It is the level of training and the detail that should change depending on the seniority and course that is being taught and practical training required!! So the student nurse MUST have overall knowledge of all areas of Nursing including the basic deliveries, NOT cesareans I agree. Then the Graduate nurses, who have undergone 3 year degrees, may require a more sophisticated midwifery training, even in theatre where Cesareans are performed so they can assist doctors in future.

Midwifes in Sri Lanka are a profession, and they have specific tasks.(pavul saukya seva niladaris) No one is attempting to take their job away  from them, and they MUST be prepared to permit other people, NURSES to obtain this training, so the nurses are able to gain promotion, and go into the next level of their hierarchy.  

The fear of job protection that those with good jobs have is a sign of the times, that their jobs are worthless, and they need to do whatever in their power to prevent even POSSIBLE competition. Actually they should think outside the box and make sure they have courses to keep them updated in their fields to protect themselves from interlopers, and then prevent the dilution of their profession as the best alternative, and NOT prevent people who want to further their knowledge from so doing.

Then we come to the Doctors, a breed on their own who believe they are owed something in the health service of Sri Lanka. The GMOA is NOW IRRELEVANT. They know it and they are attempting to protect their turf in light of this irrelevancy. Nurses are increasingly doing a lot of a Doctors job, as they are AWOL and cannot be found in critical moments. They are busy lining their pockets by getting patients to see them privately. Please remember there are exceptions to this rule, and I salute the Good caring Govt. doctors who are an asset to their profession and serve their patients with duty, and diligence.

It is the GMOA who are digging their own grave by their pomposity and non-inclusive practices. Nurses have paid lip service to them for too long. Many with better education are realizing this canard, and are now taking their profession to new heights. The doctors fear the imminent threat to their status and respect.

What is more daunting is the increasing private sector health service that will soon engulf the numbers in the GMOA. Further with the international demand for nurses as compared with doctors, nurses who go overseas on contracts return NOT JUST WITH A POT OF MONEY, but also with a lot of experience in new technology the doctors don’t have. This is inevitably a threat to them, and they are attempting their utmost to prevent nurses from getting more training which will give them more qualifications, make them more employable and make doctors increasingly irrelevant except in exceptionally difficult cases of diagnosis and treatment.

It is therefore for the Health minister, NOT to be made a hostage of the GMOA, and instead show them the riot act if they cause problems. This is inevitable, and as sure as night follows day. So in the interests of the poor patients in Sri Lanka let us ensure the patient care comes first, and delegate responsibilities accordingly.            


  1. GMOA needs to be exposed as the most exclusive and selfish professional organization in Sri Lanka that DOES NOT want other health care workers to improve themselves

  2. Too right. The Allied Health Sciences Students are in the spot because of the GMOA, who don't want well qualified graduates, who will show them up as being a very incompetent bunch willing to protect themselves from superior skills that Radiology Techs, and X ray Techs and Physiotherapists may have

  3. The GMOA must be exposed in the Media as an ANTI competitive organization that puts their interests above those of the Health Service itself and is therefore NOT in the best interests of the people of Sri Lanka.

    Then once their bogus power is exposed as just HOT AIR, and their power becomes deflated they will NOT be able to pressure the Ministry of Health who are now held to ransom by their very dastardly acts