The health facilities at Moto’otua is part of the national hospital. It’s not paradise.
That’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s response, dismissing concerns about the quality of services provided at the National Hospital.
Tuilaepa said there would always be people unhappy about the service. He accused them of lacking the patience to wait in line to see a doctor. In their case, he suggested they should visit a private doctor instead.
“We are not living in paradise,” said Tuilaepa.
“The complaints are coming from the mindset of people who want to see the doctor after a two minute wait. If we go to hospitals overseas, there are complaints about having to wait for hours compared to here. Ours is way better.
“The only suggestion I have is to be patient or else there are private practitioners you can go and see.”
According to Tuilaepa if people do not want to wait in the queue, Samoa is a free country and they have other options.
The Prime Minister said there are also patients who have the benefit of seeking medical assistance overseas through the overseas treatment scheme.
“Even up to this day we still have more than ten patients who go overseas to get treatment,” he said.
Tuilaepa said there will always be people who will find something to complain about. Such people lack appreciation about the work that has been done.
In September, businesswoman Moe Lei Sam voiced her concerns about the lack of resources to aid patients at the hospital and how it was run.
Ms. Lei Sam questioned the government’s priorities and should divert funds to buy more beds at the hospital and help doctors and nurses.
“What I want to say is why is the government allowing aid worth $20million tala to go to maintain the Sports Facility when it should be put aside for our health sector,” she asked.
“We don’t even have beds for patients to lie on yet there is so much money going towards facilities that we rarely use and are not essential. Looking at the doctors and nurses they are overworked with not enough pay. This is the responsibility of the Minister in charge and I don’t see him doing anything about it.
“Samoa needs to wake up and act. Our government and the Minister of Health need to visit the hospital and see for themselves what our people have to deal with everyday.”
The $20million aid that Ms. Lei Sam referred to is a fund from China to assist the Samoa Sports Facility Authority in maintaining the Aquatic Center at Tuanaimato and for rehabilitation work at Apia Park.
Earlier this month, the General Manager of the National Health Services, Palanitina Tupuimatagi Toelupe said 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.
“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.”
Mrs. Toelupe 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.”