May 8, 2009, 6:39 AM
Steps have been taken by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to reshuffle and address what it said was a deteriorating service delivery at the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital (RVTH) in Banjul and the health sector, in particular, which has also been the subject of public discussion in recent days.
This followed recent threats by President Yahya Jammeh to wipe out what he referred to as lackadaisical attitudes at workplaces, especially at the RVTH, warning that people should either do their work, go home or go to jail.
The ministry yesterday announced that it has, among others, taken measures which include a complete overhaul of the entire RVTH management structure, which includes the redeployment and reshuffling of the accident and emergency unit, polyclinic, intensive care unit, obstetrics and gynaecology including the maternity wing, and internal medicine.
“You go to the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital (RVTH) or any hospital, for that matter; what we thought was history is coming back and, that is, you go there and the nurses do not care.
“They sit chatting, and they are very rude! Or the doctors are nowhere to be seen and, at the end of the day, they are being paid salaries,” Jammeh said, in an interview with GRTS on the eve of his inauguration for a fourth term of office.
“I’m not going to relent on Operation No Compromise; nurses or doctors that are not willing to work, they better go home before I find them there; because if I find them there they will go to jail,” he warned.
Addressing a press conference at the RVTH boardroom yesterday, Fatim Badjie, minister of Health and Social Welfare, said her ministry has registered with serious attention the concerns raised over the behavior of staff in handling patients at the RVTH.
She also revealed that part of the measures taken by the ministry to address what she referred to as the unfortunate situation was the reconstitution of the current board of the RVTH and the redeployment of extra staff, especially hardworking nurses found around the regions, to the RVTH to strengthen service delivery.
“My ministry is also in the process of setting up complaint boxes for the general public to be located at the RVTH and the ministry, and regular monitoring and supervisory visits will be conducted at the RVTH by the staff of the ministry with immediate effect,” she announced.
Noting that quality health care will not be compromised, health minister Badjie said there is a need for compassion, discipline and professionalism by those working in the health sector.
“We will be very vigilant to make sure that standards are restored as expected,” she stated, while reaffirming her ministry’s commitment to provide quality, affordable and accessible health care services to the general public.
The RVTH, she added, remains the country’s top referral hospital, and her ministry’s priority is to ensure quality health care is not compromised at any health facility.
The minister of Health appealed to the public to make best use of the complaint boxes, and also render their full support during this period.