Staff crunch hits patients at major government hospitals in Valley

  • Bir Hospital demands over 400 staff, including doctors and nurses; Teaching Hospital demands 85 doctors and 128 nurses
- Arjun Poudel, Kathmandu

Mar 12, 2019-

Radha Dahal of Mahankal, Lalitpur, reached Bir Hospital to get her penicillin administered only to return without being attended to. The 33-year-old heart patient complained that the staff on duty at the minor operation theatre of the hospital refused to administer the injection even after she waited for an hour and a half.

When Dahal complained of tardiness on the part of the hospital staff, she was verbally abused and was asked to take her complaints to the hospital director.

Dahal and her relative went to the office of the hospital director and chief of the employee administration unit of the hospital to complain about the delay in services but both offices’ response to their grievances was lukewarm.

“Radha needs to administer penicillin injection every three weeks and every time we come here, we are subjected to delays and brash behaviour by the hospital staff,” Shree Ram Gautam, relative of the patient, complained.

Like Dahal, hundreds of patients have been complaining of having to return from Bir Hospital without receiving treatment even after hours of waiting.

Dr Bhupendra Basnet, Executive Director at the hospital,  said that every day over a dozen patients reach his office to lodge complaints about service delay, rude staff or to seek recommendation for prompt treatment.

According to Basnet, the hospital is facing a severe crunch of staff--from general physicians, cardiologists, nephrologists, gastrologists, neurologists to neurosurgeons, dermatologists, ENT surgeons, urosurgeons to plastic surgeons, cardiothoracic surgeons, pathologists, oncologists, forensic medicine officers, endocrinologists, pulmonologists, among others. The hospital needs 600 nurses for effective operation of services but only have 270 at their hospital, according to Basnet.

A year ago, the hospital had demanded over 400 staff--including doctors and nurses--with the Ministry of Health and Population. “The ministry had promised to supply us with the required personnel, but nothing has happened yet,” said Basnet. “Given the circumstances, there isn’t much we can do except go about our regular duties,” said Basnet, adding that he is aware of patients facing difficulties while seeking service at the hospital.

Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH) too has been facing acute manpower crunch. Director at the hospital Dr Prem Krishna Khadka informed that his hospital had demanded 128 nurses four years ago, but the concerned authority, i.e. Institute of Medicine (IoM), has turned a deaf ear to the hospital’s demands. Only 10 nurses have been serving in some departments that have 50 beds, which means there are only three nurses providing service at a time. Of the 700 staff serving at the hospital over 400 were hired through the hospital’s internal resources.

IoM, which runs operations at the TUTH, said that it has been forwarding its demand for additional 85 doctors for TUTH to Tribhuwan University for years now, but their demand is yet to be addressed. “We reached out to the University Grant Commission and to various government offices and ministries, but nobody paid us any heed,” said Professor Jagdish Prasad Agrawal, dean of the IoM, adding that his institute was not authorised to hire staff using internal resources.

Every day hundreds of patients from across the country reach Bir Hospital and TUTH seeking treatments. Health facilities throughout the country refer patients to these two hospitals since they are the central level referral centres but with the current manpower crunch these two hospitals have not been able to deliver.

Published: 12-03-2019 08:56

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