Health merger a "wrong move" – Medical Council

The Chairman of the Medical Council, Motuopua'a Dr. Aisoli Vaai, has described the merger between the Ministry of Health (M.O.H.) and the National Health Service (N.H.S.) as the "wrong move." 

The merger between the two Government bodies is now into its third month, after legislation to give effect to the Government's decision, was passed in January this year.

But Motuopua'a has questioned the rationale behind the Government's decision, as he is of the view that the previous health minister should have just changed the managements, and kept the two health organisations separate. 

“What I saw the separation was good, but I guess the (former) Minster saw that it was not working and there were a lot of problems, he decided to ask for the merge. 

“And the question that came to my mind: is the merge the right thing to do? Two things, if I was minister, I would keep the separation and I would find a new management for Ministry and the N.H.S," he said. 

Motuopua'a also took issue with the increase in the number of staff within the managements of the N.H.S and the M.O.H.  

“When I started in the early 1980’s the M.O.H. was a small office. There was minimal staff with about a 100 people but nowadays it has grown significantly, with a lot of people which I don’t know what they’re doing.

The N.H.S. at one time had a budget of $76 million and 11 Assistant C.E.Os and a majority of the funding was allocated to salaries and administration work, which Motuopua'a said should not happen at a national hospital. 

“For the merge, in my own personal view, we are going backwards. One must consider the health care structures for the region, the M.O.H. is separate from the N.H.S. and putting them under roof will be a disaster. 

"The Medical Council met on Tuesday night and most of them shared the same concern. The senior doctors and most of the Samoa Medical Association (members) and the general practitioners share the same sentiments,” he added. 

Last month the Ministry of Health’s Acting Director General, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, said the merge is “going smoothly right now".

He said the managements of the respective organisations may have been shuffled but normal operations continue. 

“We just have to maintain our approach, patient-centered and patient first and then we improve conditions and improve tools used by our employees."

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