Allegation of corruption and mismanagement at Western Highlands Provincial Health Authority
We have had allegations of corruption and mis management leveled at the management and Board of WHPHA so I am using this Forum to present our position. I am also asking the administrators of this Forum to let this remain because I posted a response to a comment of similiar made by some one called TKiap yesterday and it was removed.
The facts about the sit-in protest and petition to the Minister for Health by the Mt Hagen Branch of the National Doctors’ Association
The Western Highlands Provincial Health Authority (WHPHA) Board acknowledges and welcomes the announcement by the Minister for Health, Hon. Michael Malabag that a review will be conducted into the allegations of sub-standard clinical standards and services at Mt Hagen Hospital.
The Board and Management of the WHPHA wish to inform the public they have nothing to hide and will co-operate with the Review Team when it arrives in Mt Hagen to conduct its investigation. The Board believes in transparency and is of the view the public has the right to know about the circumstances that led to the sit-in protest by the doctors, nurses and other staff and the subsequent presentation of the petition to the Minister for Health.
The following is an account of what has transpired:
The National Doctors’ Association (NDA) Mt Hagen Branch led a sit-in protest by its members, nurses, community health workers and allied health workers commencing on the afternoon of Tuesday, 1st March 2016. Initially the sit in was stated to be in response to what certain local members of the NDA claimed was corruption at Board and Management level within the WHPHA, which we deny.
The NDA had previously sent a delegation to Mt Hagen to make its own enquiries into the allegations that had been raised and to talk to the Management of WHPHA. Whilst this process was taking place, the WHPHA advertised the position of Director Curative Health Services in the two national daily newspapers starting on Monday, 29 February 2016. This was part of the WHPHA's normal administrative process.
The position was advertised because the three year contract for the incumbent is set to expire on 22 March 2016. The Board and Management of the WHPHA advertised the position so as to allow sufficient time for the interview and selection process to be completed and an appointment to be made so that the services provided through this vital position could continue without disruption. The incumbent has been informed prior to the position being advertised and is free to apply to be re-appointed and the selection process will be based on merit.
The Mt Hagen branch of the NDA seized on the advertisement of the position of Director Curative Health Services as a major issue and wrote a letter to the CEO of the WHPHA, Dr. James Kintwa on 29 February 2016 demanding the withdrawal of the advertisement within 24 hours or its members would stage a four-day sit-in protest starting at 1pm on Tuesday, 1 March 2016. The letter further stated that if the advertisement was not withdrawn there would be "severe repercussions" and the NDA members would walk off their jobs commencing Monday, 7 March 2016.
The Mt Hagen NDA branch alleged that the advertisement of this position was wrong because of its timing (in the climate of allegations of corruption against the Board and Management), and was also contrary to the General Orders governing the renewal of such contracts.
This represented a fundamental shift from the NDA's original complaints relating to allegations of corruption and mismanagement which we totally deny. Dr Kintwa replied to the NDA by letter dated 1 March 2016, confirming the WHPHA would not withdraw the advertisement for the position as it was a normal administrative process to advertise a contract position when the term of the contract neared expiration.
Dr. Kintwa has also informed the protesting staff there is nothing illegal about the process of advertisement. Dr Kintwa has made it clear that the incumbent has been informed about the process that is taking place and that he has been advised that he is at liberty to re-apply for the position. The advertisement of the position will close on 28 March 2016.
Allegations of corruption and mismanagement
The allegations that have been widely circulated as to alleged mismanagement and corrupt practices within the WHPHA are rejected by the Board and Management as being entirely baseless and without merit.
The WHPHA Management and Board have nothing to hide and give their full support and co-operation to the investigation announced by the Minister. However, the focus must always be on the provision of health services to the public and the Board and Management of the WHPHA calls on the NDA to discontinue the protests while the investigation is conducted and concentrate on providing health services to the public.
At the same time, the Board and Management reserves their rights in relation to the scandalous and outrageous statements that have been made which call into question the integrity of the WHPHA. The Board and Management of the WHPHA are currently taking legal advice as to these matters.
Focus on Services for the people
The WHPHA Board wants to inform the people of Western Highlands and the Highlands Region that the WHPHA will continue to do what it can to improve health services at Mt Hagen Hospital and the various rural facilities.
The Board and Management are working tirelessly to improve facilities including the construction of District Hospitals, Health Centres and other health facilities. The WHPHA has the support of the WHP Governor, local Members of Parliament and donor partners including the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Asia Development Bank.
The WHPHA had established a Call Centre (free call 1542) in partnership with DFAT through which the public can seek health related advice and can also report unsatisfactory services.
The Board and Management of the WHPHA will cooperate fully with the Minister’s investigation and are looking forward to working with the investigation team.
David Guinn CSM OBE OAM
Chairman – Board of Governance
Western Highlands Provincial Health Authority