To deliver a working environment that is enriching, rewarding and welcoming (with the ultimate goal of limiting staff losses to countries that have comparatively high wages).
Why the need?
For much of the twentieth century, the best and brightest doctors and nurses in the Gambia – as well as many other African countries – have followed the bright lights and high wages to the developed nations. When Anita first arrived in Bansang back in 1992, the impact of this brain drain was all too evident. One doctor served the entire hospital – which in turn served 600,000 people. Wards were chronically short staffed, and there was an understandable sense of hopelessness and despair.
The need to stem these losses was absolutely vital if the wider healthcare situation at Bansang Hospital was to improve. Yet throughout Africa, donor organisations and governments seemed to feel that such high losses of staff were inevitable – particularly given the vast difference in wages between the developing world and the developed. Anita approached things differently. Without an improvement in the turnover of staff, she recognised that all of her other efforts would be in vain. With that in mind, she conducted a staff survey – trying to seek out ways that the BHA may be able to assist in arresting the loss of staff. The results were most unexpected; increased wages were lowest on the priority list. The staff simply wanted to feel valued and respected in their place of work.
Retaining staff is therefore not just about money. It is about valuing and appreciating the incredible work of ALL hospital staff.
The Bansang Hospital Appeal is approaching staff retention and motivation as very much an ongoing project; one which is constantly evolving. The core ways that the appeal has helped so far is through;
– Renovation of old staff accommodation blocks
– Building of new accommodation (such as in the MITIE house)
– Provision of funds and prizes for the newly introduced annual staff awards ceremony.
– Funding for a satellite television service which includes annual Premiership football.
Bansang Hospital is now unique amongst government healthcare facilities in much of West Africa. The truly catastrophic staff turnover rates of the 90’s and early 00’s has been spectacularly reversed. Despite being in an environmentally hostile region of West Africa, Bansang is now a place where trained medical staff actively choose to work. With staff retention nearing 100%, the benefits of the various projects that the BHA and the hospital management have pursued greatly outweigh their initial costs.
Although the BHA has made great strides towards giving staff a fulfilling and enriching place to work, there are still many acute problems that require addressing. First and foremost are the squalid conditions in many of the staff accommodation blocks. The BHA has renovated roughly half of the accommodation; to renovate the remainder will require funds that we don’t yet have. As ever, if you make a donation to the BHA, it will go to the highest priority projects – chief among which is this fundamental need to retain staff. If you wish to make a donation, please click here.