-Tasks FG on better working conditions for nurses
The National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) has decried the migration of over 6000 nurses and midwives from the shores of the country, saying if no urgent steps are taken by the government to stem the tide of brain drain in the healthcare workforce, the country’s healthcare delivery system will continue to experience setbacks.
The association therefore urged the government to scale up the remuneration of nurses, as well create conducive and safe environment for them to operate, noting that studies have shown that a healthy work environment can lead to more engaged nurses, decreased burnout, lower turnover and better patient care.
Speaking in an interview with Pharmanews, the NANNM President, Com. Michael E. Nnachi, stated that there are proofs that nurses and midwives in the country work in very difficult environments and are poorly remunerated. This, he said, exposes them to numerous diseases and ill-treatment, victimisation, violent attacks and kidnapping experiences.
He further bemoaned what he considers to be excessive workload of Nigerian nurses, stressing that standard nursing practice ethics stipulate a nurse-patient ratio of one to four, whereas an average nurse in the country is in charge of 16 patients, or in some cases 25 patients.
“At times, there will be one nurse taking care of all the patients in a 20-bed ward. So, there is no way the best professional care can be given to patients because you need to monitor them to make sure things are going well as expected. If you don’t monitor, you will not know that things are going wrong with the patients,” he noted.
The NANNM president further highlighted key areas of nursing practice to be addressed by the government to improve the working conditions and boost the efficiency of nurses in the country.
According to him, these include: “Proper placement of nurse graduates and interns (in the scheme of service); improved salary package (special nurses salary structure); upward review of professional allowances (shift duty, teaching allowance, call duty, specialty allowance for midwives/ other specialty nurses); payment of desirable hazard allowance for being most exposed to diseases/hazards; provision of safe working environment; payment of any outstanding allowances/ benefits; payment of uniform allowance; employment of more nurses and midwives to reflect WHO provided nurse-patients ratio.”
Stressing that nurses need the best conditions of service and should have priority attention by the Nigerian government, Nnachi noted that the ideal work environment for nurses is one in which there is enough staff on duty to assist all of the patients and meet their needs quickly.
In his words, “Healthier work environments lead to more satisfied nurses which will result in better job performance and high quality of patient care, which will subsequently improve healthcare organisation financial ability.
“For effective and efficient healthcare delivery, the nurses need to work in a decent environment where there is adequate staff, safety, adequate remuneration, available functional tools, less stress, suitable protective device, etc., which will provide the nurses and midwives the opportunity to effectively deliver the best of patient outcomes. The situation is in the contrary, as Nigerian nurses and midwives work in a very tight corner, and highly restricted and difficult environment.
He continued: “Nurses and midwives are among the most critical and important professionals in healthcare delivery. They are the cornerstone of the healthcare system. No healthcare facility can do without the nurses and midwives. Their roles and services are indispensable to humanity.”
Nnachi, while expressing hope of government’s swift response to NANNM’s call, also appealed to nurses and midwives to continue to render compassionate and qualitative services to healthcare consumers who depend on their indispensable roles for better healthcare.