Nakuru Level Five Hospital, one of South Rift region’s largest referral health facilities, is reeling from a shortage of medics after at least 60 of them left to pursue post-graduate studies.
Nakuru County health authorities on Tuesday said the exit of the big number to pursue master’s degrees has strained the hospital which serves Nakuru, Bomet, Baringo, Narok, Kericho, Samburu, Laikipia and Nyandarua counties.
County Executive Committee member for Health Dr Gichuki Kariuki admitted that the workforce was strained but attributed it to a high number of referrals.
“It is true the entire Nakuru Level Five Hospital is strained in terms of workforce and there is a need to increase human resource. Remember it serves more than five counties from across the region,”said Dr Kariuki.
“Sixty doctors left to pursue master’s degrees, six others also left in search for greener pastures. The exits further reduced workforce at the facility,” he said.
Services at the Margaret Kenyatta Mother Baby Wing, which was recently commissioned by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta are also affected by a shortage of doctors and nurses.
The state-of-the-art maternity wing was constructed at a cost of Sh450 million is the largest public facility after Nairobi Pumwani.
Investigations indicate that despite the facility seeing increased deliveries, it is strained by a workforce crunch.
A nurse at the Nakuru Level Five Hospital who sought anonymity said the workload forced medics to work long hours.
“Generally, there is a shortage of medics of various cadres at the Nakuru Level Five Hospital. Currently, the situation is not very bad but, this is a looming crisis if the county government will not employ more staff,” said the nurse.
Sometimes patients are left in the hands of unqualified trainee caregivers, another source claimed.
According to the staffer, some wards that should have at least 30 nurses were operating with only 10.
“I cannot easily take leave because of the strained workforce. I have to contend with long working hours and sometimes handle an entire ward,” said another healthcare giver.
However, the medical superintendent Joseph Mburu said there was no crisis.
“The facility is doing well. For instance, we record at least 50 deliveries daily at the Margaret Kenyatta Mother Baby Wing. The facility has seven obstetricians, four interns and 98 nurses.” The county minister says plans to employ more are under way. “Once the County Public Service Board becomes operational we shall employ more medics for all cadres including nurses and specialists,” said Dr Gichuki.
The county does not have an operational Public Service Board after board members and secretariat were suspended early this year.