Govt. silent on doctors', nurses' missing pay

The Ministry of Health and Public Service Association are staying quiet on missing money owed to frontline health workers.

This week the Samoa Observer revealed that not only has money promised to doctors and nurses from the measles epidemic still not been paid out, but that doctors are now four weeks without overtime pay for no discernible reason.

Repeated emails and phone calls to the Minister of Health Faimalotoa Kika Stowers Ah-Kau and Director General of Health Leausa Dr. Take Naseri were not answered on either the measles allowance or overtime payments.

Earlier this year Faimalotoa announced in Parliament that the measles allowance, already several months late, was finally going to be paid out. 

She said that though the Ministry and Government have been busy, it is “not an excuse to hide behind.”

But doctors and nurses are increasingly feeling let down by their leadership, who are leaving them having to fight for their entitlements.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer under the condition of anonymity, a senior nurse said while government officials got their measles allowance the frontline doctors and nurses are still waiting.

“It’s becoming the norm for us to chase after our pay that we are entitled to and benefits that our Government [has] been blowing the horn about in public forums,” the nurse said.

“This is sad and you wonder why our hospitals can't keep our nurses and doctors, because they feel they aren’t getting the support they should get from the administration.”

In July, doctors received two paycheques for their 80 hour weeks that were missing their overtime payments, sometimes totalling 80 hours again.

When they raised the matter with senior leadership, the Minister informed doctors the situation would be sorted out but not in time for their upcoming pay, last week, the Samoa Observer understands. 

Meanwhile, the Public Service Commission (P.S.C.), which is fully responsible for M.O.H. following the merger of the Ministry with the National Health Services, has not responded to questions over how doctor’s overtime payments have been missed.

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

In February, the 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.


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