Health worries over the scaling down of clinical services at the National Referral Hospital (NRH)
The Solomon Islands goes to the polls in a General Election on 3 April, and as I wrote about previously, services at the National Referral Hospital (NRH) in Honiara have been scaled down since last Thursday to allow doctors, nurses, and other medical workers to travel and vote in their home constituencies to vote.
As a consequence of the staff leaving the NRH clinical services have been scaled down to “emergency” mode until the 8 April 2019, according to the NRH’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Aumanu.
There will also be no elective surgery and referral clinks will be closed.
Despite what many see as the NRH staff being essential emergency workers they were prevented from taking part in pre-voting as police and electoral officers were.
Essential service officers, including doctors, nurses and other health professionals need to be prescribed by regulation so they can be able to vote through pre-polling.
Mose Saitala, the Chief Electoral Officer, explained the situation by saying “Unless the regulation is provided it is difficult to allow these essential service officers to cast their ballot papers through pre polling,"
Mr Saitala has told reporters his office will revise current electoral laws concerning pre-polling to address the issue in future.
Meanwhile, a nurse working at the NRH told the Solomon Star ward services will be seriously affected.
"Some wards at the NRH will only have 2-3 nurses to serve, and with the 8 hour shifts three times daily, there will be no nurses to work those shifts,” she said.
"This is the scenario for the coming week, starting today," the nurse, who asked not to be named, added.
“Definitely, services will be affected and sick patients will suffer as a direct result.”
A doctor who spoke to the Solomon Star said excluding health workers from pre-polling is an oversight made by electoral authorities.
“They should know health workers are needed at their workplaces on polling day to continue their service to the public so they should be accorded pre-polling privileges,” the doctor said.
Despite the very careful planning for the General Election it is a great pity that the situation at the NRH and referral clinics had not been foreseen and the provisions of the requisite electoral law earlier amended to have prevented the situation which has now occurred causing health concerns for many.
Source of news: Solomon Star