Aspen Medical Fiji CEO Reveals Plans For Ba Hospital Operations

Health Care (Fiji) Pte Ltd trading as Aspen Medical has commenced management of Lautoka Hospital and Ba Hospital from April 1 and April 9 respectively.
26 Apr 2022 14:05
Aspen Medical Fiji CEO Reveals Plans For Ba Hospital Operations
Aspen Medical Fiji Chief executive officer Annette Owttrim.

Patient care at the new Ba Hospital has doubled since it was opened this month.

Aspen Medical Fiji Chief executive officer Annette Owttrim said they welcome patients who were seeking treatments. She said they were working towards providing additional staffing to reduce undue delays.

Health Care (Fiji) Pte Ltd trading as Aspen Medical has commenced management of Lautoka Hospital and Ba Hospital from April 1 and April 9 respectively.

Here are the excerpts from an interview

What are some of the key areas which still have to be worked out?

The key area that we are working towards is to ensure a seamless transition between Government-provided services and services provided by the PPP (Public-Private Partnership).  Areas such as when a baby is born at Ba or Lautoka Hospital will still have to link with the national database to ensure that the baby is registered so examples like this are areas that still have to be worked out.

It’s really important that we are working closely with Government services because if we don’t it is disruptive to patient management. Our patients will be going in and out of our system and into the Government services system. Additionally, all clinicians in Fiji benefit because when we are providing training to our team, we are providing it to all the clinicians in Fiji so whilst this is the PPP component of the health system it is just a subsection of the health system. We all work together; we are one health system providing health care to the people of Fiji.


Was the second wave of COVID responsible for the delay in the project being implemented?  

Aspen Medical signed the contract on 17 January 2019 and was expected to commence in 2020 however border closures from March 2020 during the first wave and the second wave in 2021 forced Aspen Medical to delay its commencement.


As for the Ba Hospital, which is new, how many medical staff and ordinary workers do you expect will be employed there? Also the same for Lautoka Hospital.

For both Lautoka Hospital and Ba Hospital, all current employees will be offered the choice to join Aspen Medical or to remain with the Ministry of Health. Those who choose to remain with Ministry will be redeployed to another hospital.

Aspen Medical aims to provide a 1 nurse to 5 patients’ ratio and we will be staffing accordingly.

This transition is the management of the two hospitals, and we will be progressing into employee engagement. At this stage, all employees are going through the deputed period and will have the choice to either join Aspen Medical or remain with the Ministry of Health.

No one will lose their jobs, and this is an important message for our teams at Ba and Lautoka Hospitals.


How much overseas medical personnel are expected to be involved in the initial stage of setting up before the opening, and during the post open period?

Health Care (Fiji) Pte Ltd trading as Aspen Medical has been supported by the Aspen Medical global team who has been providing assistance with many of the support functions. We are drawing on their presence to provide additional team members going forward on a short-term basis whilst we develop personnel in Fiji and then transition to fully Fiji operation facilities. If you look at the percentage, it will be about 1 per cent.


There is a special recruitment drive for people with disability, 20 per cent, if it goes well will it be the first company in the South Pacific to have such a programme?

Aspen Medical is committed to promoting equality, diversity and an inclusive and supportive environment for all our prospective employees. Our aim is to recruit and maintain a diverse workforce.


Has Aspen Medical had any major capital projects planned for both hospitals to lift the services presently provided and which projects, if yes, what are these?

The construction of the new Lautoka Hospital will commence in the second half of 2022. This will include two radiation bunkers, a new emergency department, additional operating theatres, and state-of-the-art critical care wards with telehealth linkages to centres for excellence throughout Australia and New Zealand health markets.


What are some of the key specialised medical fields you feel may see recruitment offshore?

Oncology (cancer treatment), cardiac surgery, interventional cardiology, nephrology, subject matter experts across a range of specialties who will assist current employees in refining clinical pathways and management treatment plans.


Any further elaboration of any subject or issue you wish to comment on?

Another important aspect of Aspen Medical is our volunteers, the most important people in the organisation.

As a private employer, we are also looking at engaging former clinical staff who are over 55 years to be full-time, part-time or volunteers. If you are interested to be part of our volunteer or over 55’s programme then please contact us, we would love to hear from you.

In terms of student development, we are working with both Fiji National University and the University of Fiji to provide facilities for their students to have optimal training and we also have a memorandum of understanding with the Australian Catholic University who will come here to gain clinical experience in Fiji as its more beneficial here than the experience that can be gained in Australia.

We are also looking at teaming with APTC to allow additional qualifications to be gained by non-clinical and clinical team members and finally, there is a major IT upgrade across both hospitals with intranet and electronic booking systems in the future.


At what stage is the partnership between Aspen Medical and the Fiji National Provident Fund in regards to the takeover and management of both Lautoka and Ba Hospitals?

Health Care (Fiji) Pte Ltd is a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) company formed between the Fiji National Provident Fund and Aspen Medical to manage Lautoka Hospital and Ba Hospital under a contract with the Government of Fiji.

The partnership between Aspen Medical and the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) was signed in 2019 and we have been working very closely with our shareholders.


How much work (percentage wise) has been put into the takeover of the hospitals?

The transition into hospitals is a complex process that has to be broken into various phases. At this stage, we are preparing for the final phase for Ba Hospital which is the commencement of surgical services. This phase for Ba Hospital is awaiting the arrival of surgical equipment following which surgeries will commence at the new Ba Hospital.

At Lautoka Hospital, we have taken over administratively with deputed clinical and non-clinical staff. Aspen Medical is working towards the finalisation of the building and construction planning for Lautoka Hospital. This will be done in consultation with our Lautoka Hospital team.

Aspen Medical plans to have a new hospital at Lautoka on the ground fully functioning in the next three years.


Would you be able to disclose the investment amount that Aspen Medical had allocated for this project and do you expect that to increase?

Aspen Medical has 30 per cent shares and Fiji National Provident Fund has 70 per cent shares in Health Care (Fiji) Pte Ltd. The partnership is a confidential agreement between the shareholders, and we are bound by this confidentiality.


What are some of the key areas which have been overcome during this partnership arrangement?

FNPF’s presence and collaboration have allowed Aspen Medical to achieve various components of coming into Fiji and operating Ba and Lautoka Hospitals.

By teaming with FNPF we are partnering with the nation, the people of Fiji as members of FNPF benefit from the success of this partnership. It’s about working with FNPF and their members who are our patients, our staff and our community and that is who we are representing.



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