Hospitals running short of doctors, nurses

Kathmandu, October 14

Shortage of doctors and nurses in government hospitals is forcing thousands of patients to return home without medical care or wait for months to get treatment.

Sources said government hospitals lacked over 50 per cent doctors and nurses.

Health Ministry officials said some doctors had retired, some had opted for private practice, some had gone abroad and dozens were on academic leave.

Poor patients go to government hospitals with the hope of receiving affordable care.

The MoH informed that the post of 500 doctors including more than 200 consultant doctors and hundreds of nurses had remained vacant in government hospitals throughout the country for years.

“We are very serious about the plight of patients,” said Health Minister Gagan Thapa. He conceded that patients were forced to seek private care or wait for months in government hospitals for treatment due to shortage of doctors. Even regional and zonal hospitals have not filled the vacancies for years.

Thapa said he was shocked to see that in some government hospitals, there were more than 15 posts of doctors, but in reality only two to three doctors were running those health centres.

Thapa said hundreds of patients who cannot afford treatment in private centres have been in queue for months at those hospitals.

Thapa had recently visited some hospitals of the central, western and far-western regions.

Due to lack of sufficient nursing staff, one nurse has to serve several patients at once, said Bhogendra Dotel, MoH spokesperson.

Enraged patients and their relatives sometimes misbehave with hospital staff after they do not receive proper care. “Every patient demands proper attention, but it is not possible in the existing situation,” he added.

According to Dotel, the government has not increased the postings of doctors and nurses in state-run hospitals for two decades. “The population has increased and so have the beds in some hospitals, but the number of postings has not increased,” he added.

He said government hospitals need 50 per cent additional doctors and nurses to provide affordable and quality care for all patients.