Allied Health Professionals members pen merge concerns
The merge of Samoa’s health sectors looks at dissolving Allied Health Services because they are “not health specialists”.
This was revealed in a letter addressed to the Minister of Health, Tuitama Dr. Leao Tuitama and signed by members of the Allied Health Services.
The letter, dated 17 January, 2018, was obtained by the Samoa Observer.
The members of Allied Health Professionals are appealing the decision made by Ministry of Health Director General, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri to remove the Allied Health Services from the proposed merge structure.
The eight-page letter requested for the retention of the Allied Health Services under the Hospital and Medical Services in the proposed P.S.C. merge structure for the Ministry of Health.
The Allied Health Professionals were initially recognised in the Healthcare Professional Registration and Standards Act 2007 part VII.
“Then in 2010, the Code of Professional Standards-Samoa Allied Health Professionals was established followed with the N.H.S. guidelines and protocols 2013 under the N.H.S. Act 2014,” the letter reads.
The letter says that 10 years later they have been recognized by the Public Services Commission (P.S.C.) during the merge preparations period, where P.S.C. reiterated and identified them as the Allied Health Professions.
“Unfortunately, in the meeting held with N.H.S. on 16 January, 2018 at 2pm, the Director General of the Ministry of Health proposed variations to this proposed P.S.C. merge structure.”
Outcomes of the meeting included the recommendation to remove the Allied Health Services from the proposed P.S.C. merge structure and to operate under the Clinical Health Services like the nursing division.
“The Biomedical Engineering Services to be recognized as an added new division and be included in the hospital and medical services.
“Despite our General Manager stated the positon for the Allied Health Services to continue onto the merge with the current proposed P.S.C. merge structure, there was still strong opposing comments against the Allied Health Services be removed as we are not known health specialist and yet we are autonomous health professions who have undergone four-five years of studies in professional institutions whereby we study the same medical and core science subjects to become specialist in our own field.
“The fact is as Allied Health Professionals, we are Primary Health Care Practitioners who understand and manage our own work, which is irreplaceable by any other medical professional such as a doctor or a nurse,” says the letter.
The outcome of the meeting resulted in unfulfilled reconciliation at the management level.
“Furthermore it created dissatisfaction amongst Allied Health Professionals staff when informed because there has been no proper consultation of All Allied Health Professionals.”
The Allied Health Professionals recommended that “changing things may disrupt the service and negatively impact patient outcome in the long run. Therefore, we strongly wish to remain as Allied Health Services.
“Secondly, for a positive way forward, we would greatly appreciate further consultation sessions with the other Allied Health and Support Service Division, to ensure smooth transition of professional functions for each Allied Health Professional body, and be effectively sustained for efficient patient centered are and service delivery.
They recommended that they needed to actively participate in decision making processes or consultations that could affect them.
“Also we should all take into consideration the legal mandates already endorsed through Cabinet under which our Allied Health Professional work is guided, under the Healthcare Professional Registration and Standards Act 2007, Code of Professional Standards 2010, N.H.S guidelines and protocols and Allied Health professional Act 2014 and Allied Health Professional Registrations 2016-2017,” the letter further states.
They concluded that their professional opinion is that Allied Health Services remains as initially proposed.
“We can confidently say that the Samoa Health Care Services will not be complete without the Allied Health Professional’s and Support Services.”
Services at the National Health Services, under the Allied Health Services include physiotherapists, biomedical technicians, prosthesis, orthosis, dietitian social services and social workers.