Editorial comment | Facing challenges

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The Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva. Picture: ATU RASEA

The fact that only six of the eight operating theatres at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital (CWMH) are operational is a concern.

It is worrying that the Health Ministry needs $400,000 to fix the two that are not working.

Health Ministry permanent secretary Dr James Fong made the revelation at a media conference during World No Tobacco Day celebrations in Suva yesterday.

A nurse shortage, he said, was also contributing to the surgery backlog at the CWMH and staff were working overtime to address the issue.

He said there was an overall shortage of many specialties, and surgery was one of them. He said there was also a need to renovate the CWMH operation theatre capability.

Most of the backlog, he noted, was within the CWMH and it was not unexpected given that CWM caters for more than 50 per cent of Fiji’s population.

“We’ve come up with a scoping that will help us to try and get CWM’s operation theatre sorted out.

From latest estimates, I’m told that it will take about $400,000 but we will have to go through a planned phase.”

Obviously there will be questions asked about the state of our operating theatres. It could take a year, Dr Fong said, to fix them.

He stressed in the interim, staff had been working overtime to cater for the case load. It is a concern that we hope that the powers that be will address appropriately.

While we accept that it isn’t going to be easy to urgently address shortcomings now been experienced at CWMH, we have to understand there is an expectation from the public for top service at all our hospitals, and especially so at the CWMH.

It goes without saying that there will be concern that staff are working overtime to manage the number of cases referred there.

In saying that, there is an expectation that the powers that be are managing this well. Staff who work in our operating theatres carry the hopes of patients who have to undergo operations.

So it is critically important that they are well resourced, and looked after.

The revelation that the six operating theatres are sometimes countermanded by the shortage of nursing staff, is a concern that we hope will be looked at closely, and appropriate action taken.

Yesterday we highlighted confidence in our health system or the lack of it, and why it was a reason Fijians were leaving for overseas countries.

We also spoke about challenges facing our health care system.

As we raised above, there will be questions asked of processes and systems, especially those that minimise such scenarios in the future.

We now look up to the powers that be to do the right thing.

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