Our nurses are being overworked – HoD

Dr Felix Nyande, the Head of Department for the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS) School of Nursing and Midwifery has called to attention the growing burden on the nation’s health sector workforce.

He said nurses and midwifes were being forced to take on the extra workload amidst the heightened exodus of health workers, and that coupled with limited availability of tools… many faced psychological challenges

Dr. Nyande was speaking at the opening of the 2024 Nurses and Midwives Week celebration of the Volta Region Chapter of the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association in Ho and said stakeholders should consider the reality of the issue and seek an address.

“Our colleagues are overworked, particularly nurses and midwives. Nurses keep leaving the ward every day. The number of nurses that have left within the past three years is overwhelming. The Ghana Health 2023 report shows that when it comes to nurse-to-patient ration, we are doing well, we are doing better. But unfortunately, I don’t think that is the situation on the ground.

“The number of nurses that have left and have not been replaced is enormous, and here, once they leave, if you were ten and four have left, the six of them will share the work. Whether you can do it or not, nobody really cares,” he insisted.

Dr. Nyande said zero remuneration for extended work hours coupled with limited availability of tools and equipment contributed to what he called moral distress among nurses and midwives.

“In the public sector in this country nobody pays for overtime, especially for nurses. There are nurses in facilities in this administrative region that run six-day work weeks. So, the extra hours you put in, who pays for that.”

He said of mental and emotional burden, “I think it starts from we trained nurses.”

“By the time you complete school, you know what is called improvisation. No matter what happens, you need to find a way out. And a lot of times, it puts you under moral distress. You know the right thing but because you don’t have what it takes to save the life of a patient, the patients lose their lives. You go home and you can’t sleep just because somebody didn’t provide you with the right things you need to make a change that you think you can make,”

Dr. Nyande mentioned the limited opportunities for future studies, adding that lots of nurses “faced a gloomy future when it comes to opportunities for further studies,” and that said in spite 80 percent of health staff being nurses and midwives, the group received virtually, no quota for cushioned further studies.

The Head of Department shared the belief that with strategic investment in infrastructure and skills upgrade, nurses and midwives would benefit the nation more with employment and social benefits, and therefore Unions should be more proactive in securing them.

“Let us recognise the value and worth of our nurses and midwives, not just in words but in deeds. To get the best out of our nurses and midwives, they must be supported to practice at the pinnacle of their capability, and that, work places must provide the best work environment, fair renumeration and working conditions including appropriate entitlements, labor protection and rights, medical health and the prevention of violence and harassment, including sexual harassment and abuse.

The week celebration was on the theme “Our Nurses and Midwives, Our Future; the Economic Power of Care,” and had several stakeholders including political leaders, heads of the Health Service in the Region, and traditional leaders in attendance.

Mr. Kwame-Kumah Courage, Regional Chairman of the Association in his welcome address appealed to the government and stakeholders to “fully support nurses and midwife’s specialisation.”

While outlining a host of challenges and needed interventions, he said the integration of technology into care delivery was “a must” and reiterated the Association’s devotion to the welfare of the health personnel.

The opening ceremony awarded excelling nurses and midwives from the various districts in the Volta and Oti Region.

Source: GNA

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