ACUTE shortage of medical personnel has hit Delta State even as the state government said it had no plan for now to recruit more staff due to the economic meltdown.
The state government also said none of the state hospitals would be closed down as a result of the shortage even as it had not reneged on the engagement of retired nurses and doctors.
Investigation by the Nigerian Tribune revealed that worst hit are the nurses in particular and medical doctors cadres in general.
For over three years, the Nigeria Labour Congress in the state has consistently raised the alarm over the shortage of nurses and doctors just as medical workers have also not relented to call on the government to expedite action to fill the vacancies.
As a result of the short fall, the state government was said to have initially engaged the services of retired nurses and doctors, but because the stipends were not promptly paid, they decided to withdraw their services.
It was also gathered that the state allegedly engaged staff on casual basis without any salary hoping to absorb them when the economy improves.
Nigerian Tribune reports that there are 66 general and three central hospitals as well as one teaching hospital in the state, making it the state with the highest number of public hospitals in the country.
It is believed that some of the hospitals were established on political consideration. For example, there are general hospitals in Asaba, Ibusa, Ogwashi-Uku and Ubulu-uku all along the road of about 30km distance.
Similarly, public hospitals are in Agbor, Abavo, Umutu, Obiaruku and Abraka, a distance of about 50km just like Kwale, Ashaka, Ofagbe, Ozoro, Oweiologbo and Oleh are all close to one another.
The state has three schools of nursing, two schools of midwifery and a university which produces graduates in large numbers each year.
The investigation shows that the hospitals in the rural areas are worst hit as nurses do double shifts in order to cope with the number of patients.
“In a situation where 10 nurses are needed for a shift, about 4 are available to run the duty roster; for the doctors, the shortage is still there, it was learnt”.
It was discovered that in a particular hospital in Aniocha axis of the state, one nurse alone ran the wards until another was posted to augment her.
In his reaction, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Nicholas Azinge, told The Nigerian Tribune that the government was not sleeping over the matter, saying as soon as the finances of the state improved, the acute shortage of medical cadres in the hospitals would be tackled.
Doctor Azinge said to meet the short fall, government decided to engage retired medical workers especially doctors and nurses and that its obligation to the senior citizens have always been met.
While appealing to the work force to be calm, the commissioner said it would be absurd for anybody to suggest the closure of any hospital no matter the location, stressing that it was the policy of government to bring healthcare delivery to the door step of every Deltan