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Understaffing at Moroto Referral Hospital Irks MPs

In the report, Muwanga noted that the Ministry of Health provides for an approved structure of 370 staff for Moroto Regional Referral Hospital but a review indicated that only 244 (66 percent) are filled leaving a staffing gap of 126.
16 Jun 2020 17:54
Public Accounts Committee Chairperson Nathan Nandala Mafabi.

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Members of Parliament were on Tuesday shocked by the under staffing levels at Moroto Regional Referral Hospital.

Officials from the hospital led by the Director Dr Benedicto Watmon were on Tuesday appearing before the committee to answer audit queries raised Auditor General John Muwanga in the financial year 2018/2019.

In the report, Muwanga noted that the Ministry of Health provides for an approved structure of 370 staff for Moroto Regional Referral Hospital but a review indicated that only 244 (66 percent) are filled leaving a staffing gap of 126.

The report showed that the positions of a senior consultant Pediatrics, surgery, medicine, Ear Nose and Throat (ENT), Psychiatry, Radiology and others were not filled while the hospital Accounts Department has only an accountant with no senior accountant, Senior Accounts Assistant, Accounts Assistant and others.

“Understaffing results into having staff assigned work beyond their schedules of work and adversely affects service delivery due to work overload on the part of the staff, it also leads to staff demotivation tendencies further undermining service provided to the patients,” said Muwanga in his report.

Dr Benedicto Watmon said that efforts to improve staffing were at a slow pace.

He explained that the hospital’s efforts of attracting and retaining specialists do not yield many results due to absence of hard to reach allowances since most posted specialist do not report and opt to work in areas close to Kampala.

“Those posted either report and do not assume duties or do not report at all. The current staffing level is at 65 percent,” said Watmon.

He also partly blamed the qualified opinion slapped on the facility to the critical under staffing in the accounts department where he said the only accountant Joyce Lekuru is overwhelmed.

“But we now have a volunteer who assists but officially, she is the only staff in the department,” Watmon revealed. 

Watmon further shocked PAC when he revealed that even the Internal Auditor, Eric Olum posted at the facility is barely on the ground since he is shared with Arua Regional Referral Hospital.

The revelation did not go well with PAC Vice Chairperson Ojara who wondered how an Internal Auditor can work for two government entities and why it had been hard for the hospital to recruit more accountants.

Rosemary Nawaut, the Amudat Woman MP demanded that the hospital provides evidence to the committee about its efforts to recruit staff.

Fredrick Angura, the Tororo South MP said that by all standards the available accountant is overloaded. He, however, said that this does not take away queries identified by the auditor general.

Dr Watmon presented a letter written to the Accountant General requesting to have an internal auditor and more accountants at the hospital. He, however, recommended that recruitment for Karamoja region need to be done from the area since those recruited from other areas do not take up the positions.

Meanwhile, the Internal Auditor General Eric Olum explained that he was posted at Moroto Hospital in the financial year 2017/2018 but in the following financial year 2018/2019, Arua Hospital did not have an internal auditor general and the Internal Accountant General asked him to give a helping hand to Arua hospital.

Olum said that he only gets a salary from Moroto Hospital and that at every facility, he spends a week.

Ojara directed that Olum avails the letter directing him to work for the two facilities by Friday. 

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