Govt. owes doctors overtime pay

Doctors working at the Ministry of Health (M.O.H.) have not been paid their overtime for four weeks. 

The Samoa Observer understands the Minister of Health, Faimalotoa Kika Stowers Ah-Kau, had an emergency meeting with senior doctors last week, where she promised them to fix the situation.

The Samoa Observer had emailed Minister Faimalotoa and the Director General of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, for a comment on Thursday. Neither had responded by press time.

But payslips seen by the Samoa Observer reveal that for the last two fortnightly pay cycles in July, senior doctors were paid for 80 hours alone, excluding their overtime pay. 

Overtime, a necessity to keep the hospital running 24/7, ranges from 30 to even 80 hours a week for some doctors. 

It is the second time this year doctors at the nation’s hospital have been short-changed on payday.

In February, the Public Service Commission (P.S.C.) pushed through a radical policy change that had overtime shaved to a flat rate for all doctors, instead of based on their hourly rate.

The change left some doctors short hundreds of tala per week in overtime, and the Director General of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, himself intervened to ask P.S.C. to reverse the changes. 

Overtime was eventually restored a few weeks after Samoa Observer revealed that the changes had been implemented but senior doctors said they were never officially informed         .

Neither Faimalotoa nor Leausa responded to emails querying the overtime problems in July. 

It is not known whether this is a P.S.C. or M.O.H. related issue.

But sources inside the hospital say the Minister told senior doctors on Monday that while she could not guarantee last week’s pay would be correct, she would work to have the problem fixed by the next fortnight.

In February, doctors wrote to their leadership imploring them to value them more. Some doctors even left their shifts early rather than work for the significantly reduced rate.

“Doctors feel disheartened, angry and unappreciated,” they wrote in their letter.

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