Says 1 nurse attends to 20-bed ward in shift; As 7,000 migrate abroad
By Chioma Obinna
The Lagos State branch of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, NANNM, on Tuesday lamented the acute shortage of Nurses and Midwives at the state and local government levels, saying, they are overworked and underpaid.
According to them, a nurse has to cover a 20 bedded ward on a shift or run 24 hours or even 48 hours shifts to ensure patients are attended to.
Addressing a press conference tagged: “The Agonies and Pains of the Caregiver; Nurses Deserve Better”, the Chairman, Comrade Olurotimi Awojide demanded urgent recruitment of nurses and midwives to remedy the situation.
Awojide said the mass outward migration of nurses due to poor working conditions and remuneration packages has astronomically increased the workload and pressure on those still within the system.
He said the workload is currently affecting the quality of care they can provide and the patient’s health outcome as well as led to needless death and chronic illnesses among their members in Lagos.
Stating that the primary health care level at the local government was most affected, he explained that according to the records of the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria, more than 7,000 nurses have left the country this year alone.
He regretted that government at all levels has continued to demonstrate indifference to the unfortunate development and in certain instances even encouraged it.
“We have observed that the replacement on exit policy of the State government in place is not sufficient to cater to the high level of attrition among nurses and midwives.
The remuneration package and the high cost of living have simply made employment with the Lagos State Government uncompetitive.
“It is reasonably expected that with a high percentage of the GDP and economic activity in Lagos State and the pressure on the healthcare system to care for over 20 million Lagosians, the remuneration package should reflect the burden we bear including the economic realities and the cost of living.
He said the state has continued to lose its experienced and well-trained nurses to both foreign Labour migration and internal migration to federal hospitals within and outside the state.
“We expect Lagos State to pay higher than even the Federal Government of Nigeria considering its status.
“We are requesting that a retention allowance to incentivise nurses and midwives from exiting the service be included in the emolument packages,” he stated.
He further added that most of their members who were engaged by the Lagos State Government have been stagnated and their career mobility distorted due to administrative errors by the Lagos State Health Service Commission.
“Our affected members have been frustrated without remedy by this career stagnation and we are seeking regularisation for this group of nurses to ensure their career mobility does not bear the burden of these errors.
“Nurses and Midwives have continued to improvise around the decay in health infrastructure and lack/shortage of modern equipment to carry out procedures.
We demand improvement in overall budgetary allocation to health and that the Government provides an adequate supply of consumables for optimum service delivery to Lagosians.
“Also, we are requesting appreciable improvement in the Working condition, environment, and essential amenities for Nurses.
“This includes Nurses’ stations, changing rooms, and restrooms in many Hospitals which are in very poor condition. Our members deserve to work in decent condition.”
He called for the provision of living quarters for nurses and midwives within the hospital and interns, adding that their work schedule and certain peculiar vulnerabilities require accommodation arrangements within the hospital facilities or proximal to it to be provided to ease the many difficulties with trans and resolve safety issues.
Awojide also demanded the nurses’ representation in relevant boards and policymaking bodies.
“As a key stakeholder and the central role we play in keeping the healthcare system functional round the clock and our deep understanding of its issues as a result, we should have representation on all relevant boards and in policymaking within the health system.
“We demand that the Government provide life insurance coverage to all Nurses and Midwives and other health workers for proper compensation in the event of death or disability.
“Health workers risk their lives and by extension that of their families to provide care for others. We deserve to be covered”
He also called for the review of the entry point of Graduate Nurses into the Civil service, stating that, despite having a similar length (Five years) of University training, Internship, and NYSC programme to other health professions like Pharmacy, graduate nurses continue to be shortchanged by a grade level on their point of entry into the service.
The placement of Graduate Nurses on Grade level 09 as against Grade 10 is not justifiable and amounts to naked exploitation of their skills and knowledge.
On fake nurses, he called on Lagosians to assist their association in identifying fake nurses in their community.