If you have attended any of the schools of nursing in Nigeria, you must have at one time or the other wondered if it is possible to, as a nurse own a hospital in Nigeria. Well, the answer is not far-fetched as some nurses do have hospitals here in Nigeria, but the question is, Is it legal? In Nigeria, many things are done without due consideration of the law, and all over the world, after due consideration of the law’s stance on any issue, it is quite common to circumvent the law by exploiting the holes in the law, Nigeria is no different.
Hospitals and clinics in Nigeria are allowed to be created by an individual or a group of individuals to help reduce the workload and pressure on government hospitals, thereby making health services and access to quality healthcare available to the masses. For this reason, there are many private hospitals and clinics in many areas of the country. However, are these hospitals and clinics legally owned by a nurse?
This publication has the objective of shining light on the grey area of private hospital ownership by nurses in Nigeria. Does the law allow it? How can a nurse own a hospital in Nigeria if they have the means and passion to do so? All of these questions will be answered with regards to what is legal and acceptable in Nigeria.
Hospital Ownership in Nigeria
The healthcare sector is unlike any other sector of any country, it is an important and integral part of every society since it caters to the physical, mental, and emotional wellness of all the members of that country or society. And important to the delivery of healthcare services to the masses is the required facility, hospitals.
Without hospitals, the sick will litter the streets, as it was once the case when there were inadequate number of hospitals in the country. Since the government can take on only so much of the financial burden of providing quality healthcare to its citizenry, there is need for the private sector to support the government in this regard.
This is what brought about the creation of hospitals known as private hospitals, to help assuage the pressure of healthcare demand on the government-owned hospitals. Although the profits and proceedings from these private health institutions are the owners’ and investors’, they pay taxes to the government who has given them permission to exploit the economic advantage the healthcare sector of the economy has to offer.
However, since the operation of a hospital is not the same as operation of a school, it is required that a professional, who is adequately learned about the hospital, its environment, and how it should be run, should be the ones given the permission to own and control a hospital. In a broad way of thought, there are many professionals in the healthcare system – doctors, nurses, radiologists, lab technicians, and many more. Are all these professionals allowed by law to own a hospital?
Roles of Nurses in the Healthcare Sector
One of the important professionals in the healthcare system, are the nurses. They are integral to the success and efficiency of any hospitals as they are usually the first point of contact for most patients in a hospital. They are adequately trained to act when the doctor is unavailable and are permitted to take some decisions on minor cases in the absence of the doctor. Some of the roles of nurses in a hospital include:
- Carry out physical examination on patients
- Record health history of patients
- Serve as the emotional and physical supporter of patients as long as they are in the hospital
- Collaborate with other healthcare professionals to determine the best treatment option for a patient
- Serve as the communication link between the doctors and the patients.
These responsibilities of nurses make them adequately experienced to sometimes administer drugs to patients after some years of experience. Therefore, due to their extensive experience in medication, communication, and other essential patient-oriented ideals, can a nurse own a hospital in Nigeria?
Can a Nurse Own a Hospital in Nigeria, Legally?
The direct answer is No, at least, not legally. Although there are many hospitals and clinics that are owned by nurses in Nigeria, it is not allowed by law. One might put up an argument against this, but the reason it is so is that to won a hospital a Nigeria, you must have a license as a practicing doctor who has had at least, 5 years of practice experience.
A nurse may be registered and be of the highest qualification in that career line, but his or her experience does not translate to a doctor’s license. As a registered nurse with good qualities, he or she is only licensed to support a doctor with regards to the patients in a hospital environment. However, recently, there has been a change in this law that allows certain types of nurses have some types of clinics, but not hospitals. In other words, nurses can own and run private clinics in Nigeria.
In Nigeria now, a nurse may open a clinic where he or she can treat minor medical conditions. Also, midwives with adequate experience can own maternity clinics where pregnant women can come for their antenatal programs and vaccination. However, these clinics are usually operating in close relationship with other hospitals, in case of emergency conditions.
Also, if you, as a nurse, wants to invest in a hospital, you can collaborate with other doctors who have the same vision, and with the help of a lawyer, navigate this possibility. There is every chance it might work, since it will be different healthcare professionals – some with doctor’s license – coming together to provide healthcare services.
Hospitals are important parts of any country; therefore, it is important that every country has adequate numbers of hospitals for their citizens. Government hospitals are not enough to cater to the need of Nigerians. Therefore, private hospitals help to fill the gap that would have existed had they not been allowed.
However, not just anyone can own a hospital, not even all healthcare professionals. Doctors with operating licenses and adequate experience are permitted by law to own a hospital. However, other professionals in the healthcare system are not allowed, including nurses.
Wherever a nurse own a hospital, she has used a doctor’s license in achieving that, and is most likely not a sole owner of the hospital. However, as a nurse, you can own a clinic or maternity.