Public and private institutions accredited to train nurses in Ghana will reduce their intake by almost 1,600 this year.
This follows a directive from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) to the 75 accredited institutions training nurses in Ghana, including private ones, to admit students in accordance with an earlier discussion.
The directive was contained in a circular issued by the council and signed by its Registrar, Mr Felix Nyante.
“The Nursing and Midwifery Council of Ghana would like to respectfully inform you of the admission quota for the 2017 admissions to nursing and midwifery training institutions. This follows discussions held in Koforidua on June 27, 2017 on the subject matter,” the document obtained by the Daily Graphic said.
Last year, 7,335 students were admitted to the various institutions, but the number will reduce to 5,737 when the directive is implemented.
The figures mean that last year’s admission figure has been reduced by almost 22 per cent.
Although quotas increase the admission spots generally for private nursing training institutions by 38 students — from 899 in the 2016/2017 academic year to 937 this academic year, a number of the institutions which admitted higher numbers of students have had their intake reduced.
For instance, the Pentecost University, which admitted 96 students last year, can only take 35; the Presbyterian University College in Asante Akyem, which enrolled 92 students last year, has been given 57 this year; the Garden City University from 59 to 35; the Central University from 68 to 56 and the Premier School of Nursing from 100 last year to 60 this year.
On the other hand, some of the private nursing training schools had the quota system offering them more students than they admitted last year.
Examples include Golden Sunbeam College of Science and Technology, from five last year to 22 this year; Bimaks College of Business and Health Sciences in Agona Swedru, 14 to 35; Narh Bita from eight to 35 for its degree programme and 44 to 58 for its diploma programme; 20 to 82 for Western Hills School of Nursing; West End University College, 29 to 59; Hopkins Health Training Institute, three to 18; Wisconsin International University College, 29 to 35, and Withrow College, four to 20.
But the hardest hit by the reduction in admission figures are the public nursing training colleges and the universities offering nursing, with the cut in admission figures ranging from 10 to more than 100 in some schools.
Ntotrotroso College of Nursing has its last academic year admission figure of 235 cut to 82; Dunkwa-on-Offin Nursing and Midwifery Training College, 250 to 109; Ho Nursing Training College, 183 to 108; Korle Bu Nursing and Midwifery Training College, 245 to 153; Kwadaso Nursing Training College, 254 to 152; Tamale Nursing Training College, 210 to 111, and Keta Nursing and Midwifery Training College, 137 to 77.
Others are Cape Coast Nursing Training College, 229 to 91; the University of Cape Coast, 100 to 75;University for Development Studies,123 to 97, and University of Health and Allied Sciences, 125 to 80.
However, four of the colleges in Wa, Kwapong, Damongo and Zuarungu gained between two and 48 students on their last year admissions.
Unhappy private institutions
A source at one of the private nursing training institutions that spoke with the Daily Graphic on condition of anonymity said the decision to allocate quotas to the private institutions, especially, was wrong, as it amounted to interference that could affect the private sector’s investment in education.
It said currently the accredited private nursing training institutions invested between GH¢3 million and GH¢4 million in laboratory equipment and other training aids for their nursing students and pay lecturers between GH¢3,000 and GH¢8,000.
“You are taking all this cost and they are asking you to admit a limited number of students. This amounts to control. There should be no control in an educational sector where the government does not support you. This is a democratic era and they should allow private investors to run their businesses,” it said.
The source said the situation could affect international students admitted by the private institutions because “without the NMC ‘coating’ them, we cannot graduate them”.
In recent times, there has been a lot of agitation by nurses trained in both public and private institutions for the government to provide them with jobs.
However, the source said it was not all students from the private training institutions who were absorbed into the public health system, arguing that “some of them complete and go abroad, others join private health facilities, while others establish their own businesses”.
Allowance politics & ministry’s response
It said the government’s decision could also stem from its decision to restore the nurses training allowance which was scrapped by the Mahama administration in the 2013/2014 academic year.
When contacted, the NMC declined to comment on the issue for now.
But, responding to the concerns, the Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Health, Mr Robert Cudjoe, denied the claim that the quotas were linked to the allowance the government had restored.
Before the allowance was scrapped, each student nurse received at least GH¢450 every quarter. The position of the Mahama government was that the removal of the allowance would allow more students to be admitted.
The issue became one of the topical issues during last year’s campaign, with the New Patriotic Party (NPP) promising to restore the allowance.
An assessment by the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association revealed in June this year that Ghana will need not less than 38,000 nurses and midwives to bridge the nurse-patient ratio.
The WHO nurse to patient ratio is pegged at least 40 nurses for every 10,000 population but Ghana’s statistics is said to be 22 nurses for every 10,000 people.
While acknowledging that the country had not met the World Health Organisation’s nurse-patient ratio, Mr Cudjoe said Ghana’s figures were far better than those in most countries in Africa.
He said the decision to give quotas was to help the government produce healthcare professionals who met the country’s needs at a particular time.
He stated that the current quota was not going to be a permanent one and that if at any time there was the need to train more nurses, the government would remove or increase the quota.
According to him, the country had been training more nurses than it needed and that after their training, they expected to be absorbed into the various health facilities, with the government paying their salaries.
“We are studying the trend and it will get to a point where we will ask them to train more of particular health professionals. It is not a blanket directive; it is subject to change. Why do we have to train so many nurses when we cannot get them jobs?” he asked.
Mr Cudjoe said the reason most public nursing colleges were complaining about the cut in admission numbers was that they used their internally generated funds to run their schools, including putting up infrastructure, when government support was, at a point, not coming.
Going forward, he said, the government was putting in measures by which would be funding all infrastructure needs of the institutions and they would not depend on their IGFs.
He also indicated that the bonding of students, which made it compulsory for them to serve the nation for some years before they were released, had been cancelled since 2014 and new students had been told that they were not automatically entitled to jobs.
Mr Cudjoe stated that the government was also looking at possible avenues, including discussions with the country’s neighbours in the sub-region, for a possible export of trained Ghanaian nurses.