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Ministry of Health Hits Out at NFP Leader

Ministry of Health Hits Out at NFP Leader
Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services Philip Davies
July 27
11:20 2017

The Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services Philip Davies says his ministry strives to provide the highest possible quality of care to all patients at its health facilities.

“We are especially committed to provide sensitive care to patients who are terminally ill, including those with cancer, to ensure they are as comfortable and free of pain as possible in their final days,” Mr Davies said in a statement.

He was responding to a recent statement by Biman Prasad, the leader of the National Federation Party.

“Currently our cancer patients, even in the last days of their lives are left to die in hospitals or family members are being forced to take them home and provide care at their own expense,” Mr Prasad said.

“This is unacceptable and inhumane. An example of the pain and suffering of cancer patients was witnessed first hand by one of our Vice Presidents at CWM Hospital two weeks ago.

“There was no morphine – the common painkiller drug- to provide them relief. This suffering has to end and it will under an NFP Government.”

The ministry said, unfortunately, Mr Prasad’s statement did not provide enough information for it to fully investigate his claims of inadequate treatment.

His statement was completely at odds with the services that the ministry’s dedicated staff offer on a day-to-day basis when caring for cancer patients and others with terminal conditions.

Mr Prasad’s unsubstantiated claims risk causing unnecessary distress to patients and their loved ones at a time when they most need reassurance and sympathy.

Mr Davis said: “Our staff are qualified professionals who administer palliative care at major hospitals and work closely with support groups and NGOs to provide the best possible care and support to cancer patients.

“The administration of drugs for pain relief (analgesics) at the end of life is highly technical and requires extensive specialist training.  Our doctors administer these drugs safely, and our hospitals carry all the necessary analgesics, including morphine in tablet, liquid and intravenous forms.

“There is no shortage of such vital products.

“If any member of the public has a genuine concern about a patient, they should use the established facilities within the Ministry of Health, including our customer care feedback line, to register a complaint.

“They are also encouraged to raise their concerns directly with the medical or nursing personnel on site.”

He said Mr Prasad appears not to have done any of those things.

“To date, he has not made a  formal complaint or expression of concern,” he said.

“Instead he has chosen to raise these sensitive issues directly in the media with no concrete evidence to support his case and little if any consideration of the upset his actions may cause to the patients concerned.

“The ministry’s customer care feedback line is open 24 hours a day every day of the week to receive complaints or complements on the services we offer.

“Any complaints that we receive are acknowledged within a 24 hour window and referred to the relevant staff for investigation and resolution.

“From the time the line was launched, on June 15 to July 25, we have received 1864 calls which have offered praise for our staff, comments on our performance and concerns on issues which we are working to address.

“We encourage anyone with feedback of any kind to call our customer care centre and work with us to maximise the benefits of the services we deliver to the public.”

Edited by Caroline Ratucadra

Feedback: arieta.vakasukawaqa@fijisun.com.fj

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