PESHAWAR: The shortage of nursing staff at the largest public sector health facility of the province, Lady Reading Hospital (LRH), has badly affected patient care at the hospital, doctors and nurses told The News.
Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti had recently announced 200 additional posts of nurses for the hospital. The announcement was widely welcomed by the doctors and nurses. It had generated hope among the nursing staff that the newcomers would lessen their burden.
However, like other government announcements, this statement proved to be merely a political slogan as the government later agreed to create only 75 posts and that too after hectic efforts by the LRH administration.
“The bureaucracy created so many problems and was reluctant to sanction additional posts announced by the chief minister,” said an official of the LRH. Pleading anonymity, he said the LRH administration pursued the case with the bureaucracy and finally the government agreed to provide 75 additional nurses’ posts instead of 200 promised by the chief minister during his recent visit to the hospital to inquire about the health of victims of the Bajaur Agency suicide blast.
The clergy-led Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal government had created some additional posts of nurses in the LRH. But this government has been unable to take note of the sufferings of the patients and appoint more nurses.
Paying tributes to nurses for their excellent job, senior doctors at the LRH said the hospitals were virtually being run by the nurses but the government never gave them due rights. Pleading anonymity, a senior physician said the patients at the LRH were largely suffering because of less number of nurses there.
He said the government and the LRH administration recently bifurcated the paediatric ward into two wards and created new posts of professor, associate professor, assistant professor and senior and junior registrars, but did not create even a single post of nurse for these wards.
The LRH, he said, already had insufficient nursing staff and the administration instead of recruiting new nurses gave the staff nurses to the new ward from the existing lot. Similarly, he said the government had now established gastroenterology ward at the LRH and transferred two doctors from the Hayatabad Medical Complex but did not recruit a nurse for this facility.
According to sources, presently one nurse was tending to 70 patients at the LRH, though under the national standard rules one nurse is required to care for 10 patients. The nurses at the LRH, he said, were under stress due to a host of problems including overwork, lack of enough reward for services, no time for rest and negative attitude of the doctors and society.
“These are the reasons nurses are misbehaving with the doctors, patients and their attendants at the hospital,” argued the doctor. LRH Medical Superintendent Dr Rahim Jan Afridi admitted that only 75 posts of nurses out of 200 announced by the chief minister had been approved by the government.
He said the LRH was in dire need of nursing staff owing to growing number of patients.The provincial health department, he said, had sent summary of 75 additional posts to the Finance Department and after approval the summary would be sent to the chief minister for a final decision.
Dr Rahim Jan said the administration had advertised 20 vacancies for nurses three months back and 180 candidates were short listed after test and interviews. He said the administration would now appoint 20 nurses from the same merit list on emergency basis and then 75 would be recruited from amongst the remaining 160 candidates.