The University Teaching Hospital has cut down on patient admissions owing to reduced manpower at the health institution and many patients including accident victims were yesterday turned away after being hurriedly attended to.
The situation at the country’s largest referral hospital has become agonising as many patients have been discharged but government ministers and other officials found time to present gifts to the few patients still admitted and whose biggest gift could have been the reinstatement of the fired nurses.
An on the spot check at the emergency wards revealed that even accident victims from the Christmas eve mishaps were being sent away with minimum treatment to avoid keeping-in patients in the absence of adequate nursing care.
One victim of a road traffic accident only identified as Chanda who complained of chest pains and could not walk unaided was ordered to leave the hospital grounds after his wounds were stitched.
“I am waiting for my relatives to come and pick me up. They have gone to the police to get the report but I am told that I should not sit here (near the casualty ward). The others who I came out with were told to leave immediately and they are waiting outside at the bus station, but I can’t walk that is why am still here,” Chanda said.
The festive season creates a hive of activities for the emergency wards at all hospitals but lack of adequate staff nurses has contributed to reduced service delivery at the largest health institution in the country.
The situation in the labour ward was disturbing because although the hospital has recorded 28 Christmas babies born between midnight and 0800 hours on Wednesday among them 15 girls and 13 boys respectively, the lack of staff was evidence.
“We are just happy that our granddaughter was delivered safely. Otherwise we were all concerned with the presence of students in the labour ward,” explained a happy grandmother over the situation at UTH.
Student nurses have become an important part of the healthcare services delivery system including the labour ward at UTH following the dismissal of nurses among them midwives, that has disturbed operations at the institution.
And former Solwezi Central Member of Parliament Lucky Mulusa said it was shocking that some government ministers had found time to take gifts to the few patients admitted to UTH when the best gift they could have presented was the reinstatement of the dismissed nurses.
Mulusa told the Daily Nation that it was unfortunate that each time President Sata was in an influential position; he had always left permanent damage to the health sector.
Mulusa said in 1999 when President Sata was the minister without portfolio in the MMD government, more than 100 resident doctors were fired and that void had not been filled from that time.
And UPND vice-president for political affairs Canisius Banda has warned that any government in the world that tampers with the health sector does not last and has predicted that the PF government was on its way out of power because of the drastic measures it had taken against the nurses.