At least two nurses leave the profession every month, going by the number of nurses that left the health system this year.
With 16 nurses who voluntarily resigned until June this year, about 125 nurses have left the profession in the last six years.
Of the total, 99 voluntarily resigned, 10 died, eight superannuated, and five were compulsorily retired. Two were terminated and one retired on early retirement scheme.
According to records with the health ministry, the sector saw the highest nurse attrition last year with 30 nurses leaving the profession. Of this, 25 voluntarily resigned, three superannuated and two died. The least was in 2013 with six nurses voluntarily resigning.
In the last five years, the total health workforce including the administrative and support staff has increased by 13 percent, according to the annual health bulletin 2019. It increased to 5,283 in 2018 from 4,688 in 2015.
While the total number of nurses increased by 12 percent in the past year, nurse to bed ratio remained constant at 1:1. This, according to the bulletin could be due to the corresponding increase in the number of health facilities.
Since 2016, the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) has also lost 125 nurses until June this year.
With 55 nurses at JDWNRH leaving the profession, 2018 recorded the highest attrition rate.
About 51 voluntarily resigned, three completed their contract and one superannuated.
The hospital had 15 nurses leaving the profession this year to date. Except for one who left after completing the contract term, the rest voluntarily resigned.
The hospital today has 527 nurses and is short of more than 120 nurses.
A few months ago, the hospital issued a notice freezing extraordinary leave (EOL) for nurses and technicians due to an acute shortage of staff. Currently, nine nurses and four technicians at the hospital are on EOL. The hospital has 247 technicians.
While human resource development continues to be the top priority of the ministry as one of the principal health system inputs, according to the bulletin, the country has a shortage of 2,201 medical professionals at various categories including specialists, nurses and technicians.
“Bhutan is also facing the challenges from a financial perspective due to declining development assistance as part of the process of its graduation from Least Developed Country status,” it states.