Doctors at controversy-ridden Princess Marina hospital are decrying workload pressure due to the shortage of quality medical practitioners at the biggest public health institution.
The perennial problems at the referral hospital were mainly blamed on shortage of doctors and patients overcrowding. A doctor who preferred anonymity told Mmegi that the quality of service at Princess Marina has greatly reduced due to the shortage of staff.
“This leads to us working under pressure and not giving proper services to patients,” he said.
The doctor who works in the Accident and Emergency (ANE) ward said the shortage of doctors is a burden to patients since it takes time to attend even to patients in critical conditions and those in need of specialised medical attention. He said the desperate measure is especially felt in the ANE ward, where the number of patients fluctuates on a daily basis.
He said that each ward has an average of 10 doctors with only two working in a seven-hour shift. The doctor said in a shift one has to attend to almost 30 patients or more. “Patients wait for a long time before we can attend them while there are some who need to be checked more often due to their conditions, some of the patients have even lost faith in us,” said the doctor.
Another doctor, also speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation, said the shortage of doctors is caused by a number of factors. These include resignations, with many going to the private sector; and transfers to other health facilities around the country and the Ministry headquarters. He said that the situation has worsened over the last two years. The medical practitioners noted that regrettably their clients, the patients, have lost faith in them. However, the Princess Marina chief communications and public relations officer, Donnell Kutlapye disputed the doctors’ assertion, insisting that acute shortage used to be a problem, but the situation has since improved.
“Ideally we have 80 to 90 percent of the medical staff that we need, although the volume of patients fluctuates on a daily basis,” said Kutlapye.
He, however, admitted that there were still losing medical practitioners to the private sector mainly out of the belief that the public sector renumerations are low. This, the hospital has addressed by recruiting new doctors from University of Botswana School of Medicine and other universities in the region, he said.
Kutlapye said the hospital has an overall of 170 medical doctors, including specialists and medical officers mainly from government and their partners such as UB, UPenn and Baylor.
Marina hospital has over the years attracted bad publicity, with accusations of poor service delivery, overcrowding, dirty linen and recently made headlines with a reported case of neglect resulting in a patient falling from the bed and dying.