Mpilo hit by doctors shortage

Dr Solwayo Ngwenya

MPILO Central Hospital needs an additional 44 junior doctors and 20 specialists in order to adequately service its catchment area.

The shortage of doctors is straining the few doctors who are now forced to work long hours.

Mpilo Central Hospital services Bulawayo, Masvingo, Midlands, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South provinces. 

Junior doctors at Mpilo are said to be working about 130 hours a week instead of the 56 hours prescribed in their contracts. 

In response to questions, the hospital’s clinical director Dr Solwayo Ngwenya said the shortages were also affecting the school of medicine as students have no one to teach and monitor them. 

“We urgently need additional 44 junior doctors and 20 specialists for us to be able to provide quality health services. The staff complement we have at the moment is failing to cope, thereby compromising service delivery,” said Dr Ngwenya.

He said due to shortage of specialists, junior doctors were not being supervised thereby compromising their training.

Dr Ngwenya said the hospital has been operating without enough specialist doctors for years and there was therefore urgent need to address the anomaly.

“The hospital is running with a handful of specialists which has greatly compromised our service delivery. We would do better with at least 20 additional specialists,” said Dr Ngwenya. 

In a letter addressed to Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo last month, junior doctors at Mpilo Central Hospital said they could not continue working 130 hours per week. 

Their representative Dr Mthabisi Bhebhe said the hospital could not be run by a few junior doctors with no supervision or assistance from seniors as that compromises service delivery. 

Dr Bhebhe said no junior doctor should be in the casualty ward and doing calls alone more than twice a week.

“The Ministry of Health must take the health of the people in this region seriously by immediately deploying the remaining 60 junior doctors who have just completed their studies. 

“These measures must bring an end to the situation whereby surgery junior doctors are made to do calls every single day while their medicine counterparts are made to manage the whole casualty alone without supervision.” —