HEALTH professionals have been urged to leave their cellphones behind when working in operating theatres and during ward visits, as it is reportedly a common practice in State hospitals for nurses and doctors to interrupt their work to answer their phones.
The deputy permanent secretary of the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Dr Norbert Forster, yesterday said the Windhoek Central and Katutura State hospitals have adopted a regulation prohibiting the use of cellphones while staff are attending to patients.
This ban extends to those performing surgeries or emergency procedures, and those on ward visits.
The regulation stipulates that staff may only respond to calls or text messages while on break. They may attend to emergency calls, but should ask to be excused before doing so.
Hospital staff have also been rapped over the knuckles for shoddy managerial supervision that results in dirty environments, broken toilets in hospitals, and turning up for work late - sometimes as much as two hours late.
Incidents of patients not being monitored after operations were also reported.
The ministry said it is paramount that preventable deaths in hospitals be reduced.
It said patients should be monitored regularly and any abnormal findings should be reported to the appropriate levels for proper treatment.
Surprise visits to health facilities in the Karas Region found staff asleep on the job, or not present at their stations at all, Forster said.
Health Minister Richard Kamwi said unannounced visits to health facilities have greatly improved punctuality, but the main remaining culprits are those working at the ministry's head office in Windhoek.
"They must pull up their socks," he said.
Health managers were also told to communicate information shared at management meetings with their staff.