RATs not being carried out properly

  • ACNU blames fellow nursing unions for withdrawal
  • PSUNU Chief says RATs part of docs’ duties
  • RATs only for suspected cases: Govt. lab techs

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

The All Ceylon Nurses’ Union (ACNU) has alleged that the rapid antigen tests (RATs) carried out on patients admitted to hospitals islandwide are not being conducted properly due to certain arbitrary actions of two nurses’ trade unions, namely the Government Nursing Officers’ Union (GNOU) and the Public Services United Nurses’ Union (PSUNU).

ACNU President S.B. Medawatte, speaking to The Morning, alleged that the GNOU and the PSUNU have withdrawn from taking biological samples from patients to conduct RATs, without giving any clear reasons as to why. However, he added that it is the staff of hospitals who are at risk due to the actions of the said trade unions.

“Until last June, all patients admitted to all hospitals for inpatient treatment underwent RATs, taking into account the current Covid-19 pandemic situation. But now, samples are being taken by doctors to perform RATs; but they do not have enough time to spend on this owing to their other duties. Also, some doctors do not have a proper understanding of how to obtain samples for it,” he noted, adding that for these reasons, RATs are now being conducted only for patients being admitted to accident wards and suspected Covid-19 patients.

Speaking further, Medawatte added that hospital staff and other patients receiving treatment in hospitals are at high risk due to the improper identification of Covid-19-infected patients in this manner.

He also said that even though the nurses representing the ACNU are willing to obtain samples for RATs, they had withdrawn from such duties due to possible conflicts with the other two unions (the GNOU and the PSUNU).

“The nurses who represent our union are not always on duty. Therefore, we ask the GNOU and the PSUNU to give a clear reason for their not conducting RATs and to discuss the matter with the relevant authorities,” he emphasised.

However, when contacted by The Morning to inquire about this, Narahenpita Abayaramaya Temple Chief Incumbent and PSUNU President Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera said that it is the duty of doctors to conduct RATs. He emphasised that the decision to withdraw from these duties was taken collectively.

“It is the duty of the doctors to perform RATs. Some individuals make various baseless allegations in order to ensure their survival,” he claimed.

When contacted by The Morning, College of Medical Laboratory Science President Ravi Kumudesh said that although laboratory technicians are ready to perform RATs, they are not being conducted for every patient admitted to hospital since the samples are obtained only from suspected Covid-19 patients. He also added that the entire hospital staff and other patients are at serious risk due to the failure to identify Covid-19 patients.

Attempts to contact Minister of Health Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Ministry Secretary Dr. Sanjeewa Munasinghe, Deputy Director General of Public Health Services Dr. Hemantha Herath, the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA), and GNOU President Saman Rathnapriya proved futile.