A patient centre focus needed at the health service, says Minister


By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – TUESDAY 04 JULY 2017: Doctors and nurses need to put aside their differences and competitiveness and concentrate on treating patients.

According to the Minister for Health, Tuitama Dr.Talalelei Tuitama, “It has been noted that the medical practitioners at the hospital do not work harmoniously with each other for the sake of a patient, but for competition and medical status.”

He was speaking to the media after opening the Health Sector Plan 2008 – 2018 – Annual Review For Financial Year 2016-2017 yesterday.

“For a healthy Samoa to be well promoted, unity and working together is the key element for this to succeed,” said the Minister.

He said the health sector is fortunate to have the opportunity to partner and collaborate with others and discuss healthy approaches for the betterment of the service.

“The reason behind the different attitudes of medical practitioners is not because of the patient, but their competitiveness in status leaving the patient in limbo,” said Tuitama.

He also pointed out that that was the core reason why Government has decided to merge the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the National Health Service (NHS) so they can work together for the same cause.

He said there should be one administrator so the flow of funds is well monitored and managed, but to have MOH and NHS as separate entities when they both work for the same outcome, is not a healthy stance.

Private practitioners vs hospital medical team
The same was mentioned about the relationship between the private medical practitioners and doctors working at the hospital.

Tuitama said sometimes when a patient is referred by a private practitioner to the main hospital; it took a while for an on duty doctor or nurse to serve the referred patient.

“Never mind who referred the patient. A patient is a patient but and the doctor must do his work,” said Tuitama.

Patient’s right to leave hospital
One of the issues Tuitama said has been recorded at the hospital, is patients asking doctors to release them from the hospital.

Tuitama said whilst the patient has the right to leave the hospital, the medical team including doctors and nurses should do their job to convince the patient to stay.

“Doctors need to be persuasive but if the patient insists, then release him/her after they have signed a document that they are leaving of their own free will,” said Tuitama.

He said if the patient returns the following day “do not question their reasons for return but concentrate on treating the patient.”

He said it is important for doctors and nurses not to change attitude towards patients.

Part of the main hospital at Moto’otua

Waiting hours to see a doctor continue to increase
During the review, it was recorded that the number of hours patients have to wait at the emergency and outpatient unit increased tremendously. “It’s very sad data,” said Tuitama.

In 2012 people that waited for an hour was 15% and 5.6% in 2017.

People that waited one to two hours was 25% in 2012, and rose to 32.6% in 2017. People that waited two hours in 2012, was 57% and went up to 61% in 2017.

“This is a very poor result and is a sign that something needs to be changed at the medical service,” said Tuitama.

He advised any medical practitioner and nurse to work with dedication and together to serve the people of Samoa and uphold their medical ethics.

Last week, the Faculty of Nursing and the Faculty of Medicine were officially merged.

Tuitama said this was a “smaller version” of what is expected at the end of the year when MOH and NHS are officially placed under one administrator.