Kwekwe General Hospital like many other public health institutions in the country has become a death trap as mostly unsupervised nursing students are reportedly attending to patients following an industrial action by qualified health personnel who are demanding a better living wage, midlands news can report.
The latest strike by qualified nurses over a month ago has left authorities at the health institution with no option but to rely mostly on students thereby putting many lives in danger.
Kwekwe Hospital has a capacity of admitting over 300 patients at once and it is being alleged that less than 10 qualified nurses were reporting for duty against a required number of 60 to 70 qualified health personnel per shift.
While the Hospital’ Medical Superintendent, Dr Patricia Mapanda could not be reached for a comment, impeccable sources told midlands news that though with little knowledge, nursing students were now attending to health seekers with less minimum supervision thereby putting many lives at risk.
Several health experts who spoke to midlands news said that student nurses had no choice but to be there.
“One ward was being staffed by student nurses who had no choice but to be there. These students are hungry. Each day they eat the same repetitive diet as their patients, sadza and cabbage, which has little nutritional value”, they alleged on condition of not being named.
A local private medical doctor also added his voice and said that the situation at Kwekwe Hospital and other public hospitals in the country needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
“We need doctors and nurses with adequate knowledge and training. The use of students puts the lives of patients at risk. The number of patients dying at various public hospitals in the country as a result of this has increased in the past 5 years or so. I call upon the government to urgently attend to the situation”, he said on condition of anonymity.
Nursing students are deployed at medical institutions as interns as part of their studies. But a chronic brain drain, and regular strikes by medical practitioners-those who have not left the country, has seen students with less minimum supervision taking responsibility for health care before graduating.
Meanwhile Mpilo and United Hospital schools of nursing have demanded the withdrawal of all student nurses from the two hospital wards to enable them to undergo for Covid-19 testing and it was not clear whether the hospitals will continue to operate at the time of publishing.