Senior nurses in Bengal to play doctors’ role now in rural areas

Kolkata, May 27 (IANS) The West Bengal Health Department has devised a unique initiative to cope with the problem of shortage of qualified doctors in the rural areas of the state, especially in the community health centers.

It will shortly start a three-week “doctor’s training programme” for senior nurses employed under the department and after successful completion of the training, these nurses will be upgraded as community health officers and be posted in different community health centers.

A state Health Department official said that these community health officers will do the initial treatment in case of minor ailments and substitute in case of non-availability of doctors in the community health centers.

However, these community health officers will not have the right to issue prescriptions or death certificates.

“The entire project is the brain-child of Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, to open the career growth avenues for the nurses employed with the state government,” the official said.

He also said that in the initial phase, 704 nurses will undergo this “doctor’s training programme”. During the training period, they will receive a special allowance of Rs 10,000.

An announcement on these lines was made by Chief Minister Banerjee in August 2021, when she said that the state government is planning to open the promotion avenues for experienced nurses, contending these were capable of providing medical services just like qualified doctors.

Noting that often services of the quacks are taken in rural areas, she asked: “If they can, why not the experienced nurses?”