Protesting PNG nurses still provide care at Goroka hospital

Wednesday 22nd May, 2013

The head of the Eastern Highlands branch of the Papua New Guinea Nurses Association says staff are still providing critical care services at Goroka Base Hospital, despite the withdrawal of some services as a protest.

Lanson Hinanu says in February nurses and doctors called for the hospital board to confront staff shortages and a lack of critical material, such as blood products.

He says nothing has happened and this has meant patients have to go to other provinces for hospital care or go without.

Mr Hinanu says since Tuesday protesting staff members have been vetting prospective patients at the hospital’s gates and turning away those that are not critical.

“We don’t want to miss out any patients who really want to get help from us, but our focus is not to penalise the patient, it is for the management to come and see us and see OK this is what we can do to help the patients. And of course the public and patients are in support because a lot of them have lost loved ones moving out to the other hospital.”

Staff of the Goroka Base Hospital shut the gates to the provincial hospital yesterday in protest over the deteriorating condition of patient care services.

They displayed placards and banners calling for Health Minister Michael Malabag to come and address the situation today.

The staff, who are members of various unions, are also demanding the immediate removal of the Eastern Highlands provincial health authority board and the management of the hospital.

President of the Goroka branch of the National Doctors Association Dr Francis Wandi said they would maintain the protest as the action they were taking was for the good of the general public.

He urged Malabag to come to Goroka and address the situation so that they could return to work.

Wandi said the doctors, nurses and other specialists could not perform their duties without appropriate facilities and equipment.

Other union leaders also called for the immediate removal of the provincial health authority board and hospital management.

“Services here are collapsing. Doctors here are qualified as their colleagues in Kundiawa, Mt Hagen and elsewhere but could not perform without appropriate equipment and instruments that the management should provide,” Nurses Union president Lansen Inanu said.

Meanwhile, chief executive officer of the health authority Ben Haili yesterday denied claims made by Wandi that the authority had ignored requests for essential equipment and services at the hospital.

“My management team is working closely with the Health Department to procure 67 items of essential biomedical equipment,” Haili said.

“That includes sterilisers, x-ray and biochemistry machines as well as resourcing significant upgrades of water supply, air conditioning and building the new mortuary.

He said despite numerous requests from the provincial health authority to Wandi and his colleagues conducting the protest at the hospital, the authority had not received any details of the current grievances.

“This action has come without any formal or informal notification,” the hospital’s acting manager Dr Max Manape said.

It is believed the health authority ordered the reopening of Goroka hospital yesterday afternoon.

Source: Radio New Zealand International and The National