The problem is the egos at the health sector

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Dear Editor

In reference to your editorial titled “An utter waste of public monies,” I fail to see from the examples quoted in your editorial how they relate to whether the two entities operate as one or separately. 

For instance, doctors and nurses having to pick up rubbish after the cleaners have finished is probably a case of cleaners finishing the shifts early or a problem with the cleaning roster system. 

The example of triage nurses running out of blood glucose test strips is something, which occurs in the hospital emergency area and is not a function of having separate entities. 

It is understandable that there are issues at the hospital and the Department of Health but are these due to the existence of two entities or simply a reflection of systems not functioning properly in the two organisations?

I agree with the general sentiment expressed by the Chair of the Commission, namely that more moneys should not be expended if there is no discernible improvement in services at the hospital or in the department. 

A merger will not suddenly increase the number of available beds or improve the quality of services to members of the public.

Rather than having an inquiry into whether the two should re-merge, the inquiry should instead focus on what the two organisations are doing well at present, identify areas of concern (like the examples quoted in the editorial) and make recommendations on possible solutions. 

One of these solutions might include having one corporate group, which services the needs of the two organisations. Instead of having two HR areas, two finance divisions, or two corporate operation groups, there should one corporate group for the two organisations. 

This will lead to efficiencies and savings to the health portfolio. The issue of having a top-heavy structure in the health department can be addressed by restructuring functions and organisational set-ups similar to that at the Police Department where only one D.C.E.O. has replaced the many which existed before. I can understand the argument that these structures are based on introduced overseas models and their applicability to Samoa is a story for another day.

In my simple and humble view, the two organisations should be quite separate because they serve two distinct functions. 

Simply put, the department should focus on health education and prevention, and the hospital should focus on treating the sick. The view from the makeki is that part of the problem in the relationship between the two organisations revolve around the egos of the main players in this saga. 

According to the rumour mill at the makeki, the relationship between the health professionals at the two entities have, at times, be best described as frosty. This has to stop. In its place should be a culture of collaboration and mutual respect and this needs to be cultivated and encouraged, first by the Minister, and then filtering down from the two heads of department.

I believe that an effective public health education programme by the health department on areas such as weight management, through balanced dieting and exercising will reduce the rate of Type 2 diabetes. 

The benefit of such a programme would be a reduction in the numbers coming to the hospital with diabetic related illnesses. 

Even my one unit of economics at a local institution taught me that there are significant net economic benefits to the country from this one initiative.

I don’t know where I heard this but there is a saying that while the egoists fight, Rome is burnt to the ground. I sincerely hope that this is not the case from re-merging the hospital and the department of health.

Ma lo’u fa’aaloalo lava,

 

Vai Autu 

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