In order to avoid mixing things up, we need to clearly define what a hospital is in the Nigerian context compared to similar healthcare facilities. According to the Lagos State Health Facility Monitoring and Accreditation Agency (HEFAMAA), a hospital is a premises with facilities for medical investigation, diagnosis, and treatment. These facilities include those required for bed care, nursing, and other professional health services.
HEFAMAA also defines other healthcare facilities as follows:
Private clinic: a premises where medical care is provided on outpatient basis and patients are admitted for observation purposes before subsequent transfer or referral to a hospital for further management. Private clinics are not allowed to run 24-hour services. Rather, they are allowed to open for a maximum of 12 hours per day.
Maternity centre: a premises where maternal and child care services are provided. These services include antenatal care, delivery, post-natal care, bed care, and nursing services. Maternity centres are allowed to run 24-hour services.
Private nursing home: a premises for providing private nursing care and managing convalescent patients.
With the terms clearly defined, let’s now answer the question.
Can a Nurse Open a Hospital in Nigeria?
No, nurses are not allowed to open hospitals in Nigeria. Rather, a hospital can only be opened by a licensed medical doctor who has at least 5 years of post-licensing experience.
However, a nurse is allowed to open a private nursing home, where she would be in charge. Nurses are also allowed to open maternity centres, but on the condition that there is a supervising doctor who attends to ante-natal clinic patients at least twice before delivery.
As for full-blown private hospitals or clinics, only qualified doctors can open those. Nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, and other healthcare professionals are not permitted to open such facilities.
But Is There a Way Around It?
Yes, many nurses own private hospitals in Nigeria. What they do is register the name of the hospital using the license of a qualified doctor. While some ensure that a doctor is available at all times to attend to patients, others put the lives of patients at risk by playing the role of doctors, attending to patients, making diagnoses, and prescribing treatments and other therapies. Whichever way a nurse chooses to own or run a hospital is illegal as far as the law in Nigeria is concerned.
Nurses who wish to have their own private healthcare facilities should stick with private nursing homes and maternity centres. As far as human health is concerned, every professional should stick with their line of training to avoid quackery and avoidable risk to the lives of patients.