The Vice President II, Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, Dr Kefas Wida-James, has disclosed that no fewer than 10 doctors migrate annually from the Gombe Federal Teaching Hospital in search of the proverbial green pastures.
Wida-James, who doubles as the President of FTH Gombe ARD, further revealed that both the Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom are the great beneficiaries of these medics who abandon the country.
According to the medic, “The number is overwhelming. The unfortunate part of it is that you could be with someone today, and by evening when you call him, his number will not connect, signalling that he has travelled out.
“These travels outside the country for the UK and Saudi Arabia are seasonal and usually during the timeframe of the recruitment exercise, which is usually around July, August, and September, that is their peak period.”
Detailing the number of medical professionals involved in the now ritual annual trip, “the Teaching Hospital is one facility and State Specialist is also another when you put them together, and at an average per annum, we lose about 10 doctors every year. This year, we have lost 10 from the Federal Teaching Hospital Gombe alone to the greener pastures foreign trip.”
Speaking on the impact of the movement on FTH Gombe, Wida-James commended the FTH Chief Medical Director Dr Yusuf Abdullahi for employing more competent hands to cushion the effect of the absence of their colleagues who abandoned the country.
He added, “The management is actually trying by engaging ad-hoc staff by providing locum employment to fill up the spaces. In the last three years, the management pursued and got waivers to get clearance for doctors and other health workers. I must commend the CMD, but you know these are not things that he (Abdullahi) has control over because remuneration is not within his control. It’s a Federal Government responsibility, so you discover that most of them are dissatisfied with the situation of thongs and, as such, are only marking time while they conclude preparations to exit the country.
“If you replace, you will see more people leave and create the same space. Within six months, the same vacuum is created again. It cuts across all departments. You will discover that skills are developed over time. When you lose somebody on the cadre of Senior Registrar, even if you replace him, and you may not replace him with Senior Registrar, before a Registrar will climb to his level of expertise it takes a lot of time, minimum of three years. You realise that at the level of Senior Registrar, he is about to qualify as a Fellow or Consultant, so there is always that gap of specialist because of the medical round circle that we have.
“At the Federal Teaching Hospital Gombe we have not reached the stage of closing departments but the effect is glaring, and as I explained earlier, you have a department that ideally should have five consultants or maybe three senior registrars or 10 but they now work with half of the number. The department will not be shut down, but the optimum service that a patient is supposed to have, such may get it,” Wida-James explained.
He raised the fears that with the state of events across the country, only general practitioners may remain following its lack of demand, stressing that “those that will be left will be general practitioners. Specialists are what foreign countries are after. No one is after general practitioners, so they concentrate their search on specialists, especially in the areas of surgery, opthalmology, ENT, and the likes,” he concluded.