The shortage of medical personnel, which is something that came to light this week in Daugavpils regional hospital, has forced Saeima’s Social and Employment Matters Committee chairman Andris Skride to schedule an extraordinary meeting next week.
As Skride wrote on Twitter, the situation at Daugavpils hospital raises concerns that a similar situation is present elsewhere and that «the acute shortage of medical personnel needs to be resolved».
«Healthcare should be a priority of the 2020 budget,» Skride wrote on Twitter.
As it is known, Daugavpils Regional Hospital has put on hold surgeries until September due to a critical situation with excessive workload of anaesthesiologists and reanimatologists, as reported by the hospital’s board member Grigorijs Semjonovs on Facebook.
«It is with a heavy heart I am forced to announce that as of today I have been forced to put on hold all surgeries until 1 September. We have a catastrophically critical situation with workload for anaesthesiologists and reanimatologists,» said Semjonovs.
He explains that two specialists have dropped out due to health problems, and this happened during their vacation. This means one standing anaesthesiologist had to participate in nine to ten surgeries in a single day. Some surgeries were combined. On top of that, there was also monitoring duty – ten to 13 monitoring duties a month per specialist, according to the board member of Daugavpils Regional Hospital.
«With doctors being forced to work on the brink of burnout, the quality of medical services suffers,» stresses Semjonovs, at the same time thanking the colleagues who decided to cancel their vacation in favour of making sure healthcare services are still provided at the hospital unhindered.
He notes that a situation formed on 1 August when all specialists are present in the surgery hall and he had to «pick from a complicated c-section, artificial lung ventilation and intubation of another patient». Quality medical assistance was provided in all three cases and none of the patients were hurt, said the hospital’s board member.
At the same time, he stresses that «it was only possible thanks to the selflessness and dedication of our excellent and professional specialists», even though the situation could have turned out differently. Semjonovs stresses that he has no right to put people’s lives in danger or allow his colleagues to burn out physically and emotionally.
«Because of that, all planned surgeries that can be postponed will be postponed until the problem with shortage of personnel has been resolved,» said the representative of the hospital’s board.
All surgeries that are not possible to postpone are being performed as planned, explains Semjonovs. He notes that by 1 September it is planned to do everything possible to attract additional specialists and resolve the labour force issue.
Daugavpils City Council holds the majority of shares in Daugavpils Regional Hospital. Chairman Andrejs Elksniņš said that the country needs to resolve the matter of attracting new specialists, because the municipality is not able to do that alone.
According to the politician, the situation in regional hospitals suffering from a shortage of specialists is that standing specialists are overburdened and are on the brink of burnout. If Healthcare Ministry does not resolve the problem, this situation will only worsen across the country.
The only realistic way to stabilize the situation is doing it the same way as small hospitals, which close down wards and divert patients to Riga. But we cannot do that because doctors in Riga have their hands full already, said Elksniņš.
He mentioned that Daugavpils Regional Hospital, which is the largest regional hospital in Latvia, is overburdened, because the hospital provides medical assistance to not only residents of Daugavpils and the region, but also Kraslava, Rezekne, Ludza and Preili.
The municipality provides newcomer doctors with apartments and bonuses to their wages, stresses Elksniņš.
«If the country does not increase the number of vacancies, we cannot hope to see new doctors appearing,» says the mayor.