Shortage of nurses could create crisis in India, warns top cardiologist

Bengaluru: The next health sector crisis India was likely to face was a shortage of nurses, renowned cardiologist Dr Devi Shetty said on Friday. The way out, he suggested, was that private hospitals should open nursing colleges to create a larger pool of patient care providers.

Speaking at a panel discussion on “The post-pandemic shift: How to prepare for the next great pandemic’, during ‘Invest Karnataka’, the state’s global investors meet in Bengaluru, the chairman of Narayana Health said it’s nurses, not doctors, who take care of the patients and pointed out that the strong home nursing network across the country had helped successfully battle the pandemic by saving lives with oxygen and steroids.

Now that Covid-19 was in an endemic stage, nursing professionals in Europe and the United States were opting for retirement on a mass scale, creating a strong possibility of immigration of nurses from India, Dr. Shetty said.

“Between 10% and 20% of nurses in these countries are retiring because of the stress and pressure they faced during the pandemic. These naare tions looking at countries like India to provide nurses,” he said. Shetty said salaries for nurses in these countries have grown three to four times and a majority of nurses who were likely to immigrate were those working in the private sector.

“Nearly 60% of the population (in India) is treated in private hospitals,” the cardiologist said, indicating the crisis a shortage of nurses could possibly create. To tackle the problem, he suggested every private hospital with over 100 beds should open small nursing colleges with an intake of 50-100 students.

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist for the WHO, agreed with the “great resignation” assessment. “Despite all the treaties and agreements to not take away resources from the developing world, western countries will obviously be looking to attract healthcare providers from places like India,” said Swaminathan.