The Young Nurses Association continued their protest sit-in outside Punjab Assembly, braving the severe heat for almost a week o have their voices heard. These protests have been a regular since March when nurses across Punjab went on strike to demand the renewal of the contracts of ad-hoc nurses. Their rightful grievances have been regarding the lack of service structure, pay scale up-gradation, health risk allowance and permanent jobs. Their demands have fallen on deaf ears as after the nurses had protested, Punjab Chief Minister’s Adviser on Health, Khawja Salman Rafeeq had issued a warning to all those who were instigating nurses to go on strike, that they would face strict action.

Ten days ago three nurses even attempted suicide by trying to jump from the Chowk Katchery flyover in Multan, as the nursing staff of Multan’s Nishtar Hospital continued their protest against their right to take days off from work, complaining that the hospital management had not allowed them to take their annual leaves for the past three years. The nurses who had protested in Lahore earlier in March had also suffered brutality at the hands of the police who had baton charged them in order to break up the gathering.

The failure of the government to negotiate with the aggrieved is a cause of concern. Be that as it may, the current budget promises better services to government employees, these women should be given their basic rights without further delay. Nurses are an integral part of the healthcare system and no set of doctors, however qualified, can run a hospital without nurses. This strike has hampered service delivery at all major hospitals besides causing cancellation of hundreds of scheduled and emergency surgeries, and a logical end to the strike should be observed.