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As many as 500 nurses who were working in various private hospitals in Kolkata have now gone back home, after being allegedly forced to work without pay or protective gear and facing social ostracism, The Indian Express reported.
Of them, 300 nurses from Manipur submitted their resignations. Most of them returned in buses that were arranged by the Manipur state government and some hired private vehicles.
According to the Health Department, almost 6,500 nurses work in private hospitals in Kolkata, of which 80 per cent of the workforce hail from different parts of the country, majorly from the northeastern region, Tripura and Odisha.
One of the nurses said that they did not receive their salaries after the hospital was closed on April 13 due to the coronavirus outbreak.
"We were also heckled. Our apartment security guards and neighbours called us 'corona' or 'Chinese'. We did not get food from the nearby shop. We informed the hospital authorities and local administration but got no help," Martina, a resident of Thoubal district in Manipur, as quoted by the organisation.
She also informed that none of the safety and security protocols were followed in the hospital and that they were repeatedly humiliated, which also triggered their mental health.
An organisation called Manipuris In Kolkata (MIK) has raised the subject with Kolkata health administration and concerned hospital authorities. "There are several issues like security, social ostracism, low or no salary, food shortage during quarantine, working environment, personal safety and security, landlord and accommodation, mental health and depression," said the organisation's chief adding that they hope to get justice.
According to the report, hospitals in West Bengal have been heavily dependent on nursing staff from other states due to the lack of nursing colleges, and this has led to a huge demand-supply gap.
Addressing the issue, Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee said that the state will train locals for seven days to give saline, oxygen support or check temperature to help with the crisis, as the hospitals cannot truly function without nurses.
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