Salaries row brewing

A plan by the Government to slash the salaries of doctors working at the hospital as part of the merge between the National Health Service (N.H.S.) and Ministry of Health (M.O.H.) does not sit well with the profession.

Both the Samoa Medical Association (S.M.A.) as well as the Samoa Medical Council (S.M.C.) are alarmed by it.

Contacted for a comment yesterday, the President of S.M.A., Lauano Dr. Herbert Peters, said they are aware about the plan. 

He said they are meeting with the Minister of Health, Tuitama Dr. Leao Tuitama, about the issue.

 “That is why we are seeing the Minister today (yesterday),” he said. “We want to know whether it is true or not that there will be a reduction in the salaries of doctors.”

Although Lauano spoke to the Samoa Observer before the meeting, he indicated that their position is quite clear. 

“Nobody wants to reduce their salary,” he said. “That is not right.”

It was not possible to get a comment from the Minister of Health yesterday.

But another senior physician, Motuopua'a Dr. Aisoli Vaai, who is the Chairman of the Samoa Medical Council, also expressed his concerns.

“If it is true they are looking at reducing the salaries of doctors then that would be the wrong move,” he said. “For every hospital, there is a salary structure in terms of qualifications, longevity of service. That is really sad if that will happen.”

Motuopua’a added he was speaking as a doctor not as the Chairman of the Medical Council.

The former Member of Parliament said this is one of the reasons Samoa continues to lose doctors, leading to a chronic shortage doctors at the hospital.

“That is why after graduating with postgraduate degrees, they move overseas,” he said. “I was the President of S.M.A. for several years and this is the same issue that I came across."

 “In all other countries, the salaries for doctors are significant, because they save lives. That is what we do and that is a fact."

“In New Zealand and Australia, the doctors are the highest paid profession. That is why the doctors continue to move overseas and I see that trend over the years. 

If this will happen, it will only make it worse.”

Motuopua’a said the plan doesn’t reflect well on the Government.

 “This does not make any sense to any country that is supposed to be modern,” he said. “In this day and age, the world is moving forward yet we are moving backwards. That is not how you do things and that is not how doctors are supposed to be treated.

 “It takes seven years for any doctor to get a doctorate degree, unlike other professions.”

In January, 2018, the National Health Service Amendment Bill 2018 was approved in final reading in Parliament. 

This is the first phase of the merger of the National Health Service (N.H.S.) and the Ministry of Health (M.O.H.), which has since been delayed. 

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