THE Lesotho Blood Transfusion Services (LBTS) is suffering from serious staffing shortages that are negatively affecting blood collections, a performance audit of the organisation has found.
The performance audit conducted by the acting Auditor General (AG) Monica Besetsa, was meant to assess the efficiency of measures put in place by the LBTS to collect safe and adequate blood to meet national needs.
The findings are part of the AG’s report on the government’s consolidated financial statements for the 2018/19 financial year.
The audit report was tabled in the National Assembly by Finance Minister Thabo Sophonea on Tuesday.
The LBTS is responsible for blood transfusion services supplying all hospitals with safe blood through donor recruitment and selection, blood collection, screening storage and distribution.
Headquartered in Maseru, the LBTS also has regional offices in Leribe, servicing the northern part of the country, and another in Mohale’s Hoek serving the southern part of the country.
Among other things, the audit established that the LBTS headquarters was heavily understaffed with just 15 people instead of 32.
“Due to shortage of staff, LBTS has not been able to attend invitations to educate and collect blood and blood products, provide services at headquarters when staff took field trips, go to the public places such as shopping centres/malls to disseminate information on blood transfusion, as required and to provide adequate counselling services as there was no position of counsellor,” Ms Besetsa said.
The report said there were only two workers; a nursing officer and an office assistant at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital instead of the required five.
There is also a shortage of eight staffers in the northern region office, while the Mohale’s Hoek office is short of 10 people.
“The management commented that there has been a shortage of staff at the LBTS since its creation in 1984 because it was created as a section of the laboratory services, it depends on laboratory services for al services, both human and financial.
“After developing Lesotho National Blood Transfusion policy in February 2006, LBTS was allocated its own budget for goods and supplies with no budget for human resources in April 2006. They made a follow-up on creation of positions for different levels of LBTS staff in 2015 when the employment contracts of the staff supported by the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) were coming to an end. The proposed organisational structure and justification for creation of positions for inclusion in the strategic plan for human resources for health was submitted in 2016.
“Staff shortage resulted in work overload for existing staff members and had a negative impact on the services offered by LBTS.”
Ms Besetsa recommended that the LBTS should approach the Health ministry for intervention on hiring additional staff to ensure efficiency in blood transfusion services.