Caption: Premila Kumar. Photo: SHALENDRA PRASAD.
The Consumer Council of Fiji is calling on the Fiji Medical and Dental Secretariat to speed up the process of handling complaints and provide redress to the aggrieved party without a long-wait.
It is time that the Fiji Medical and Dental Secretariat gets its act together and become more responsive to complaints in an efficient manner.
The recent case highlighted in the Fiji Times dated 30th April 2014, titled: Back from the dead, is yet another ‘eye-opener’ – this case has been with the Secretariat for a year now and there is no sign of redress.
Justice delayed is as good as justice denied and like Mr Jai Narayan, there are many more people who are awaiting for justice. Consumers want speedy resolution of consumer complaints.
The Secretariat must exercise a higher level of responsibility and take a tougher stance against doctors and dentists for not complying with the Medical & Dental Practitioner Decree 2010 and for medical or dental negligence.
They must learn from the Independent Legal Services Commission for Fiji and the Legal Practitioners Unit, a body which handles complaints against the lawyers, which has set a high mark in dealing with complaints in an efficient and fair manner.
The Council reiterates when Government puts in place such institutions such as the Fiji Medical and Dental Secretariat, it intends to create a sense of empowerment for the people – and when the public attempts to test the powers of such state institutions and redress is delayed – the Government’s whole effort to have an empowered society, is derailed.
The Council continues to receive medical and dental related complaints and we refer these cases to the Fiji Medical and Dental Secretariat but it is again a waiting game – we barely hear of any progress in these cases.
These are cases bordering on medical negligence, ranging from complaints about unhygienic dental clinics, diagnosed with cancer but patient had no cancer, four operations done for simple appendicitis, expiry dates of dental materials and medicines, healthy tooth extracted in place of the decayed ones, part of the tooth remained causing infection, gum swellings and overcharging by doctors.
There are times when complainants, who have lodged their complaints with the Secretariat, get tired of waiting to hear about the progress of their cases – all they get to hear is an acknowledgment of receiving the complaint and “they are looking into the issue”. There are cases pending from 2011 and the Fiji Medical and Dental Secretariat is still sitting on it.
The Council strongly believes that the backlog of cases which are with the Fiji Medical and Dental Secretariat must be given immediate attention and action.
Consumers must come together in solidarity and in public interest, continue to expose such cases of medical negligence to make their voice heard.
There is absolutely no time to waste!
Ms. Premila Kumar
Chief Executive Officer