… administration says they need not worry

Nima Wangdi

Health professionals from Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) continue resigning for various reasons. Most of them are leaving for better opportunities abroad.

Sources said that the only chest specialist resigned recently. Likewise, the nurses, those on contract and experienced are also leaving the system.

People express their concerns over the trend. They say that the trend could impact quality care for the patients in the hospital whether or not an adequate number of professionals are recruited.

“Although both doctors and nurses could be replaced, their experience could matter much,” a patient said.

Thinley, who has been a patient attendant recently in the hospital ward, said that the nurse shortage could already be felt. He said the few nurses on duty have to keep themselves busy, running from patient to patient.

“When the worker gets burnt out, it will directly hamper the care for the patients. This is concerning,” he said.

Hospital staff said that nurses from the hospital continue to get visas and then leave. More might be planning to leave which cannot be stopped.

Another person said that most health professionals leave the system for better financial opportunities while some do due to personal reasons.

However, the hospital’s Chief Human Resource Officer, Tshering Dorji said that the hospital is in a manageable state although professionals continue to leave.

“People who don’t understand the situation might worry but there is nothing to worry about,” he said.

He said that the nurses and doctors resigning has not impacted the health service delivery in the hospital for now. He said depending upon the need of the hospital and the availability of trained professionals in the market, the hospital can recruit them anytime.

“There are a number of training institutes now producing more nurses,” he said.

Tshering Dorji said that the nurses who resigned did not leave at once. There was a good time to adjust and recruit.

“Our nurses are working on six-hour shifts and the number remains as required by the nurse-bed ratio,” Tshering Dorji said, adding that the hospital also has enough nurses for critical care units, and those who have left are immediately replaced.

The hospital recruits health workers in January every year. Those who could not make it through RCSC’s Preliminary Exams are also recruited on contract since they are trained to perform the job. But some withdraw due to transfer places according to the officials.

Tshering Dorji said that the nurses and doctors are paid better given our standard. He said the hospital couldn’t stop people from resigning, as it is their choice. “We can’t pay them equivalent to some other countries that they are looking at.”

He said only one doctor resigned this year and two superannuated. “We have 69 residency doctors at Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMSB) who work in the hospital along with other doctors.”

Some 70 nurses resigned between last year and this year and 50 are on extraordinary leave (EOL) according to the hospital management.

Tshering Dorji said those on EOL are expected to join the hospital.

According to KGUMSB’s report, JDWNRH has a nurse-bed ratio of 1:6. Internationally accepted standard of nurse-bed ratio is around 1:3 in teaching hospitals and 1:5 in general hospitals.

However, sources said that some three to four nurses manned a 36-bedded ward sometimes. This means the nurse-bed ratio declines to 9-12 beds to a nurse.

The hospital has 136 doctors (General and specialists) and more than 500 nurses.