Shortages at national hospital

By Lanuola Tupufia – Ah Tong ,

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General Manager of the National Health Services: Palanitina Tupuimatagi Toelupe.

General Manager of the National Health Services: Palanitina Tupuimatagi Toelupe. (Photo: File)

The General Manager of the National Health Services says the 2016-2017 budget of $70.7million for the hospital’s operations is sufficient.

Included in the budget appropriation is $5million to cover the cost of overseas medical treatment scheme. 

She also claimed that a system of reshuffling personnel was used to cover staff shortages but did not address the reports of a lack of beds for patients in some areas of the hospital.

Palanitina Tupuimatagi Toelupe was responding to questions concerning complaints about the national hospital in Moto’otua.

A week ago, a businesswoman Moe Lei Sam reported on her experience as a patient at the hospital.

She criticized the government’s priorities suggesting the lives of the people of Samoa

should be put first and suggested that they should divert funds to buy more beds in the hospital and help doctors and nurses who are short staffed and overworked.

Noting that $20 million was being allocated for sports facilities, Lei Sam questioned the urgent need in that area when weighed up alongside the healthcare of a nation.   

She cited examples where a shortage of beds as well as a shortage of doctors meant the public was not receiving the healthcare they needed.

In response to an email from the Samoa Observer, Toelupe admitted that there was

definitely an increasing number of sick people seeking health care services at the N.H.S.

hospital but she claimed there were processes to deal with these issues.

“N.H.S. as the service provider in the health sector of Samoa is a priority service of

government,” said Toelupe. 

“Government is always prepared to assist financially when needed. It is the

responsibility of N.H.S. to manage the annual allocation it is given for its services and it is

expected to advise government when it needs more financial assistance.”

The General Manager did not say if Government had been approached about the shortages.

In terms of the staff shortages she claimed doctors and nurses are reshuffled around and senior staff step in to assist as well.  

 “Management is advised by Heads of Units regarding shortages of staff,” she explained. 

“The Manager responsible for Clinical Health Services is often on site to assist; likewise, the Principal Nurse Manager joins the operational staff at times of workforce demands.”

The General Manager pointed out that N.H.S. is like any other health care service provider in the world. 

She said it will always be challenged with budgetary allocations because the everyday operations in a health care setting are unpredictable and no amount of planning and budgeting can appropriately determine the exact realities in health care. 

“Emergencies happen,” she stressed. 

“Staff turnover is natural, and sometimes things don’t happen exactly as planned.” 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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