Friday, November 15, 2013

Hospital Staff Moral dropping in PNG

STAFF morale at the Port Moresby General Hospital is low after Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced that the hospital would be privatised.
A stop-work meeting is planned for today to discuss the planned privatisation under which staff, including nurses and doctors, would lose their public service jobs and be rehired under a private structure.
 O’Neill (pictured left) last month revealed that the hospital would be reestablished under a statutory authority by next year.
Staff, however, said they were totally unaware and would pull out all stops to prevent Health Minister Michael Malabag (pictured right) from introducing a bill to effect this in the current session of parliament.
“If we meet with our members and they say strike, we will go on strike and ask the (health) minister and secretary to come and explain,” a senior health workers’ representative said.
“We were shocked when he (O’Neill) made the announcement,” he said.
“The most-important thing is service delivery for the rural people who come here.
“This general hospital belongs to the country.
“They have not said anything about how the University of Papua New Guinea will work with the hospital.
“We can’t just accept this, be forced out and come back and reapply.”
Simon Merton, a naturalised citizen recuperating at the emergency ward yesterday after a mild heart attack, was stunned when told by nurses and doctors.
“What’s this privatisation going to mean to the grassroots Papua New Guineans who depend on it for specialist medical services?” he asked.
“What’s it going to mean to the Medical Faculty that uses it as a training hospital?
“The rich people have already got their own private health care services. Can the minister and the board assure the people of PNG that basic health services are still going to be made available to the average Papua New Guinean in this privatisation exercise?
Since O’Neill’s visit, all hospital security guards have been laid off, and replaced by a private security firm Black Swan.
“They have replaced security guards and cooks,” the health workers’ representative said.
“The next people to go are our technical people, and then the nurses and doctors.”
Under O’Neill’s vision,  all human resource management issues like recruitment of staff and budget allocation would be separate from the public service structure in which the Department of Personnel Management and the Department of Health are responsible. 
The prime minister made the announcement during his visit to the Port Moresby General Hospital with Malabag.
He said as of next year, the hospital would be managed under a hospital authority that would manage its own budget and its own human resources, functions that would be removed from the departments of health and personnel management.