Despite an acute shortage of medical workers in state hospitals, many state governments have not been employing doctors and nurses.
The PUNCH’s investigations have shown that in spite of a shortage of medical workers, a few doctors and nurses in state hospitals are leaving for other countries and federal health institutions because of poor pay.
The few doctors and nurses in these public hospitals are being overworked, thus exposing some of them to stress-induced deaths.
In some hospitals in Akwa Ibom, Osun, Edo, Cross River, Oyo, Gombe, Kwara, and other states visited by our correspondents, there were no doctors while some others, particularly those in state capitals had between one and six doctors.
The National President of the NMA, Dr. Francis Faduyile, corroborated the findings of The PUNCH and attributed the shortage of personnel to the failure of the state government to open secondary health care centres, employ more doctors and pay them a living wage.
Doctors, nurses slumped and died because of overwork
The NMA president stated that efforts to engage state governments on the plight of doctors had not succeeded.
He said, “It is important for us to state that the important thing we need the state governments to do is to open up their facilities so that they can employ doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other health care professionals to complement the work of the Federal Government.”
Lamenting the plight of the NMA members, Faduyile stated, “Within this year, we have had cases in which doctors had overworked themselves slumped and died while at work. Some of them have done surgery for many patients and they get so exhausted and passed out.
“We have a case in Benin about three to four months ago. These are signs of the intense stress on the doctors. Doctors who are seen in this case are liable to leave if they get a better opportunity. Many of them are groaning under the intense hardship and we can just plead with the government to do the necessary thing.”
Some C’River hospitals don’t have a single doctor – NMA
In Cross River State, it was learnt that the General Hospital in Calabar, was in dire need of medical personnel, especially doctors and nurses.
A nurse, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “We have only four medical doctors in this hospital. There is a dearth of medical personnel due to retirement and other factors such as migration to other countries for better-paying jobs.
“The embargo placed on employment by the state government is not helping matters. As I said, a lack of doctors and nurses is the bane of the hospital.”
The Chairman of NMA in the state, Dr. Agam Ayuk, who confirmed what the nurse said, painted an appalling picture of the condition of the state’s hospitals.
He said, “Doctors in the state are not enough. We have said that over and over again. They are grossly inadequate. Currently, on the ground in the state hospitals, we have about 34 doctors. In the past two years or so we have had 19 doctors who have left the system.
“Most of them left for teaching hospitals or other states that pay better. If you look at what doctors are earning (in the state), it is very discouraging. That is why we want the state government to implement the 100 percent Consolidated Medical Salary Structure for doctors.”
Ayuk explained that because of a shortage of doctors and nurses, wards in some state hospitals were merged.
“It is not only doctors that are inadequate. Averagely, we have two doctors in a hospital. There are some hospitals that don’t have a doctor, like the General Hospital, Ugep. Cottage Hospital Oban doesn’t have a doctor. Ranch Medical Centre doesn’t have a doctor,” he added.
We have fewer than 30 doctors in Cross River – Perm Sec
When contacted, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Bassey Joseph, told one of our correspondents that it was true that the state had inadequate doctors. He, however, said the government was planning to employ more doctors for its general hospitals.
“A lot of the doctors we moved to teaching hospitals where they are doing their residency training. We don’t do training here. The government has concluded plans to employ younger doctors and other health personnel to beef up the human resource in the hospitals,” he said
He added that general hospitals in Obubra, Akamkpa, and Okpoma had one medical doctor each. According to Joseph, the General Hospital in Calabar has six doctors.
The permanent secretary added, “In Cross River, we have about 600 nurses, while we have less than 30 doctors in the whole state. We need up to 2,000 nurses and 100 doctors.”
Doctors were last recruited in 2013 for Osun hospital
Findings at the Osogbo General Hospital revealed that the last time doctors were recruited was in 2013.
It was learnt that between the last recruitment and 2019, many doctors and nurses had retired or left the service in search of greener pasture elsewhere.
Speaking on the development, the Chairman of Medical and Health Workers Union in the state, Mr. Wemimo Olowookere, explained that the general hospitals across the state were facing acute shortage of manpower.
We’ve problems paying existing doctors – Osun
When contacted, Supervisor, Ministry of Health in Osun State, Dr. Rafiu Isamotu, confirmed that the hospitals did not have enough doctors.
He said, “We don’t have enough doctors in our hospitals. We are striving hard to engage more doctors. We have problems with those we already engaged in terms of paying salaries and all that.
“We find it difficult to engage more but I can authoritatively tell you we are on the verge of employing more doctors. We want to employ more nurses, community health workers and other paramedics especially into our primary healthcare centres.”
Kwara nurses get N40,000 per month –Adekanye
In Kwara State, Chairman of the NMA, Dr. Kolade Solagberu, said doctors were not enough because of the poor condition of service.
The Chairman of the NANNM in the state, Joseph Adekanye, said nurses and midwives in the state hospitals were being overworked.
He said new nurses and midwives had not been recruited by the state government in the last 15 years.
Adekanye said the state had also lost many qualified nurses and midwives to neighbouring states because of poor pay.
He added, “Kwara is paying a qualified nurse N40, 000 as salary per month, neighbouring states are paying the same category of workers between N90, 000 and N100, 000 per month.”
When contacted, the Kwara State Commissioner for Health, Alhaji Usman Rifun, said he could not react to the poor pay and a shortage of medical workers in the state hospitals and the poor health care provision in the state.
This, he said, was because the present administration was winding up its activities.
Three A’Ibom nurses die every month due to stress – NANNM chair
Also, doctors and nurses in Akwa Ibom State complained about manpower shortage in the state. The state chairman of NANNM, Mr. Patrick Odu, lamented that nurses were dying every month due to the stress of work.
According to him, the association buries at least three nurses a month in the state as a result of overwork.
Odu said, “The number one issue affecting us in Akwa Ibom State is manpower. We run three shifts- morning, afternoon and night- and normally we have the bulk of the patients in the morning and in the night. If you go right now to any government hospital, it will be very hard for you to find up to two nurses in a shift.
“We bury a lot of nurses in this state because of the stress of work. What many nurses would have done is being done by a few nurses. We have cases where nurses collapse on duty because of stress.
“In the process of taking care of the patients they end up dying in the ward, so the situation is as bad as that. In fact, there is no month we don’t bury up to three nurses. There is one obituary I have just received for the burial of one of my members.
“These are young people between 40 and 50 years. So stress is one calamity that is befalling us in this state and that is why we are calling on the state government to do something.”
Akwa-Ibom hospitals have one neurosurgeon – NMA chair
On its part, the state NMA Chairman, Dr. Nsikak Nyoyoko, said the state government had carried out two recruitment exercises. According to him, in the first exercise, 20 doctors were employed and in the second recruitment 21 medical doctors were employed, but this is not enough compared to the number of patients we have in the state.”
Nyoyoko lamented that the state had only “one neurosurgeon that treats diseases and conditions affecting the nervous system, including the brain, the spine and spinal cord, and the peripheral nerves.”
109 doctors in Ekiti hospitals, 30% nurses left not replaced
In Ekiti State, findings revealed that some general hospitals had as low as two doctors.
The state Chairman of the NMA, Dr. Tunji Omotayo, who said the shortage was a general problem in the country, said there were only 109 doctors in the state government-owned health care facilities.
Omotayo stated, “The reality is that doctors leave, most especially in the recent past when you cannot predict when you will receive your salary in the state.”
Also, the state Chairman, NANNM, Ezekiel Fatomiluyi, who said about 30 percent of nurses in the state general hospitals who had left due to retirement and migration, had not been replaced.
He said the situation had put pressure on the nurses.
“The nurses are overworked. There is pressure on those on the ground,” he stated. The state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Moji Yaya-Kolade, said the government would employ more workers after the need of the hospitals had been assessed.
Ogun employs 30 doctors to replace 100 that left – NMA chair
In Ogun State, government hospitals are also facing manpower shortage. At the General Hospital, Ilaro, a worker said, “One nurse is running two shifts and only one nurse on duty in almost each of the wards every time.”
The NMA chairman, Ogun State chapter, Dr. Ismail Lawal, said there were 800 doctors in the state both at the federal and state hospitals in the state.
“In state hospital management board, they have about 140 doctors across board. There are 35 health facilities,” he stated.
He explained, “When you compare the salaries of doctors in Ogun to other states, the difference between the salary of a doctor in federal hospitals and state hospitals on the same grade level is about N100, 000 in the same state. This is why doctors prefer federal hospitals to state hospitals in Ogun.
“You will observe that when people leave, the government will never see the need to replace them. When people leave, the workload remains the same or even increase which will make the remaining doctors work more.”
Lawal stated that there was a general hospital that had one doctor. He did not give the name of the hospital.
“I ask myself, how do you expect him to perform? The rate at which he will work will make him have a psychiatric problem. This deficit is not only to the doctors. It affects nurses and even laboratory staff. The time they recruited was like three months ago, but only 30 doctors were employed for the whole state.
“These 30 doctors were recruited in replacement of 100 doctors that left the service. Even 100 doctors are not sufficient. Yet, the government still recruited 30, you can see the challenges,” the NMA chairman said.
We cannot have sufficient doctors – Amosun’s commissioner
But when contacted, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Babatunde Ipaye, said, “We cannot have sufficient doctors, the number of staff we have depend on the level of output. I am a performance manager and I agree that in some hospitals, we don’t have enough, but, in some places, we have just enough.”
Only 80 doctors in Edo
In Edo State, the state Chairman of National Association of Resident Doctors, Dr. Carl Umakhikhe, said there were only 80 doctors in the state-owned hospitals.
He stated, “As we speak, we have about 120 medical officers in all the 34 government hospitals across the state. A lot of these doctors are presently undergoing residency training. The number that is on the ground now is about 80, and the Central Hospital and the Stella Obasanjo Hospital, both in Benin, have almost half of that number.”
But the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. David Osifo, said the government would soon begin recruitment of doctors and nurses to fill vacant positions.
In Gombe State, the NMA Chairman, Dr. Bose Mohammed Abdullahi, said there were 150 doctors in the employment of the state, adding that there was a shortage of doctors in the state hospitals.
But the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Kennedy Ishaya, said the Gombe Specialist Hospital alone had 45 doctors.
379 doctors in Ondo but some are leaving – NMA chair
For Ondo State, the NMA Chairman, Dr. Olawale Oke, said there were 379 doctors on the payroll of the state government, adding doctors were leaving the state for better condition of service.
The Commissioner for Health in the state, Dr. Wahab Adegbenro, said the state government had started recruiting doctors.
Benue has 900 nurses, needs 2,000
In Benue State, the chairperson of the NANNM, Esther Akpai, said nurses in the state general hospitals were overstretched due to staff shortage.
She said, “We need over 2,000 staff nurses throughout the state but what we have now is over 900. This is caused by death, retirement or some of my colleagues’ decision to seek for greener pasture.”