Patients sent home
SICK patients have been sent home from the Northern Provincial Hospital (NPH) in Luganville because staff are on strike due to receiving no payment for weeks.
Speaking to the Independent this week, Dr Basil Leodoro, the Acting Medical Superintendent of NCH, said there have been rumours that the doctors and nurses had been on a strike earlier this week but it was not really a strike.
“We are still running the hospital with the remaining staff; it only involves the contract workers whom the Public Service Commission (PSC) has not given their salaries,” he said.
“It is not known how many patients have been sent home, but it involves four hospital departments.
Dr Leodoro said the contract workers have been without pay for quite a long time.
“So they decided to leave because they have families and children to look after, especially school fees when going back to school,” he said.
“There is a total of 24 contractor staff whom the PSC has delayed to approve their contracts.
“NPH has five contractor doctors being appointed but only three are currently working and we have 68 appointed nurses working but 14 are affected by this.”
Dr Leodoro said the other contractor staff affected by the issue are drivers, cleaners and midwives.
A local church leader living at South Santo said he had to take a sick patient earlier this week for an operation but the nurses sent him back home.
“This guy was really sick so the nurses just gave us some medicine and told us to come back next week,” he said.
“They told us that this sick patient cannot be operated on due to no staff working.”
Dr Leodoro said the PSC delay in renewing contracts was also currently happening at the Lenakel Hospital in Tanna.
“The NPH Manager has submitted all contracts in October 2016, however less than half of these contracts were renewed,” he said.
“Right now we are just waiting for the PSC for the letters of appointment and we have been contacting them but they are busy - currently on a retreat,” he said.
“PSC is already aware of what is going on and we cannot do anything more but wait because PSC is our employer.”
A resident living in Luganville expressed her concerns, saying that a situation like this affects a lot of people, especially sick patients who are desperately in need and also the ones who have travelled long distances to get treatment, yet nothing has been done to make them feel better.
“The Government needs to recognise their concerns and take serious action,” she said.
Dr Leodoro said the main departments in the NPH that are most affected are the outpatients, X-ray, dental department and the laboratory.
“This is due to shortage of staff and there is no one suitable for these specific areas,” he said.
“The other sections are all fine because we are many and we just have to rearrange the services.”
The Acting General Manager of the Lenakel Hospital (AGLH), Robert Moise, said this issue is very serious and it needs to be sorted out quickly so that staff will have a regular ow of salary in order to provide good services to the public.
“These contracts are for six months and there are 18 contractors’ staff being affected at LH,” he said.
“So far LH has a very big problem with staff shortages and we have been requesting the Ministry of Health (MOE) if they could send four to ve nurses down to the hospital due to the hospital’s busy workload.
“There are no doctors at all right now because we have a doctor given by the MOH to the LH but he isn’t working anymore.
“We have to sacrifice ourselves by moving out of the office in order to do shifts in each ward because right now there is only a midwife and five nurses working on a roster and they really need extra hands.”
Mr Moise said there are only 14 nurses and that includes nurse aids assisting in dressing and other duties.
“But at last I am happy and prayfully hope that the contractors’ staff will get their cheques by this week as promised,” he said.
“I know the contractor staff were very upset so that’s why they took their stand, so that the government will need to do something about this.
“When there is no good delivery of services provided then there is no good helping out in the hospital because there is a lot of sick patients everyday in Tanna.”
A source from Tanna living in Port Vila said she has been hearing rumours from her relatives back in Tanna that the hospital has been sending sick patients to Vila Central Hospital (VCH) for treatment.
Mr Moise concluded that right now all of the hospital staff are working outside to clean up the area because it is really dirty and that will help prevent the spread of dengue fever.
Meanwhile The Independent has been trying to contact the PSC for comment on these matters but was told the PSC has no time to comment due to retreats and programs taking place.”