Hospitals limits outpatients, surgeries as over 4,000 doctors migrate

The migration of doctors and other health workers to other countries is taking a toll on hospitals across the country as the institutions have reduced the number of their outpatients and surgeries due to a shortage of manpower.

The investigations on Sunday showed that almost all the health institutions were battling with the shortage as they could not cope with the high number of patients who thronged the government hospitals, which were affordable compared with the private ones.

The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Health had on Wednesday raised the alarm that not less than five wards with about 150 beds, had been closed down at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, due to a shortage of health workers.

The Chairman of the Committee, Dr Amos Mogaji, said the five wards had to be shut because there were no workers to operate them despite the large number of patients received at the institutions daily.

Findings showed that LUTH was not the only hospital battling with the problem as health workers lamented the heavy workload because their counterparts had left the country.

Although the Nigerian Medical Association and the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors could on Sunday not give the exact number of medical doctors that had left the country, the NMA had a few years ago said 2,000 health workers were leaving yearly.

Also, the NARD had in January 2023 stated that a survey it conducted indicated that more than 2,000 of its members left the country in 2022.

However, the harsh economic conditions in the country have been pushing many doctors to leave the country as 1,197 doctors had moved to the United Kingdom since May 29, 2023.

With health institutions including the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, the Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta; Aminu Kano University Teaching Hospital, Kano and the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Ile-Ife losing close to 1,000 doctors to japa in the last two years, there are strong indications that over 4,000 doctors might have left the country in the last two years.

In the FMC, no fewer than 200 doctors, including 50 medical consultants have left the country for greener pastures abroad.

Because of the shortage of doctors, it was gathered that the hospital was forced to reduce the number of its outpatients attended to and elective surgeries.

According to veryhealth.com, an “elective surgery” is the term used for a procedure that can be safely delayed without great risk to a patient’s health, such as cataract surgery. A nonelective (or emergency) surgery is a procedure that must be performed immediately for lifesaving or damage-preventing reasons.’’

In Kano State, no fewer than 789 nurses and 162 doctors had left the state, while about 50 doctors had left hospitals in Benue State.

One of our correspondents gathered that as many as 65 doctors left the OAUTH, Ile-Ife, in the last year, while about three wards had stopped admitting patients over inadequate manpower in the hospital.

An official of the NARD in the hospital, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “65 doctors left OAUTH last year. 45 of them completed their training and left, while 20 abandoned their training and left for other countries.”

He also said about three wards in the hospital had stopped admitting patients due to inadequate manpower.

“Out of three units we have in the emergency section, only one is admitting patients. Two other units in the emergency ward are not admitting patients due to inadequate staff.

“Also, the psychiatric unit is not admitting new patients because we don’t have enough nurses. The Paediatric Unit is seriously understaffed. Generally, we don’t have enough staff in the hospital. Some people are available to work, but they are not employed,” he said.

Culled from Punch