Councils calls for a better disciplinary system for health professionals

Premila Kumar. 

The Consumer Council is pleading for the establishment of an Independent Medical and Dental Council as complaints from patients against health professionals continues to be a major issue.

This comes after a woman in Seaqaqa had to deliver her baby on a bench outside the Seaqaqa Health Centre,where health officials failed to respond to desperate calls from her aunty who knocked on health officials’ doors for help as reported in the Fiji Times today, 1st August 2014.

It is shocking to note that even the doctors and nurses residing within the vicinity of the health centre,did not hear the woman and/or her aunt’s calls for help and knocks on the door. The question is, where was the officer who is supposed to be on standbyduringemergency situations at the health centre?

The Ministry of Health must provide clear information to the public in relation to the operating hours of the Health Centers so that public know exactly what to do during emergencies. In this case the information is conflicting.On one hand, the public is informed that there was anofficer on standby at the Seaqaqa Health Centre and on the other the lady should have gone to the Labasa hospital. Why should she go to Labasa hospital in the case of such an emergency?How can anyone expect her to visit Labasa Hospital considering the distance she would have had to travel? Why have the Seaqaqa Health Centre at the first place if public is expected to visit Labasa Hospital and that too during emergencies?

This is not the first time that consumers are raising grievances against health services. In the last 6 months 2 cases relating to pregnancy have been discovered. In one case, a mother was denied servicesat the Navua hospital where she ended up losing her baby. In another case, the midwives forced a young mother to walk resulting in the newborn to fall on to the floor.  These are totally unacceptable behaviour of the hospital staff which shows their attitude towards the kind of work they do.

The Council believes that this is an act of disobeyance on the part of the health officials despite efforts being made to improve the health system. According to the Ministry of Health, 696 new doctorsand 1,510 nurses joined the service after graduating from Universities and Nursing Schools respectively.

It is worrying that the public are being subjected to attitude, which are not desirable from health professionals.Public expects the health experts to be compassionate, and professional while performing their duties on the ground.  However, this is not the reality at all.

The Prime Minister has made it clear in his speech during the opening of the new Navua Hospital that medical service delivery does not only relate to the ratio of doctors to patients, and, one of the most fundamental reforms that his Government is committed to achieving is improving the attitude of medical staff towards their patients.

The Council believes that such attitude from health professionals will only change once they are held accountable.As such, their licensesshould be cancelled for misconducts and negligence which will ultimately put their reputation at stake. We need a similar system like the Independent Legal Services Commission that handles complaints against lawyers.

Unfortunately, it is a well known fact that the current system under the Ministry of Health is not functioning at the optimum level. Efforts must be made to make things right in the health sector.

Ms. Premila Kumar

Chief Executive Officer


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