NEWS | Politics

Aspen Medical Chief Refutes Biman Prasad’s Claims

"All countries across the Pacific have also incurred significant impact on the availability of clinical staff within their respective health systems due to the most recent waves of influenza and COVID this year."
24 Aug 2022 11:57
Aspen Medical Chief Refutes Biman Prasad’s Claims
Aspen Medical Fiji chief executive officer, Annette Owttrim. Photo: Nicolette Chambers

Aspen Medical Fiji Chief Executive Officer, Annette Owttrim, has refuted claims made by National Federation Party leader Biman Prasad.

Mr Prasad had raised questions about funding and procedures concerning Aspen Medical on its party Facebook page.

He further questioned Aspen Medical’s competency and plans to provide state-of-the-art health and medical services and also claimed that Aspen Medical borrowed $424,000 from Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF). Below are questions sent to Ms Owttrim and her responses in regards to the claims.


Question: Has Aspen Medical Borrowed $424,000 From FNPF As Claimed By Mr Prasad?

Ms Owttrim: Aspen Medical has not borrowed any money from FNPF.


Question: Mr Prasad Claimed The Fijifirst Government Has Been Misleading The People Of Fiji By Promising The Start Of Free Open-Heart Surgeries At The Lautoka Hospital From May?

Ms Owttrim: The pandemic has impacted supply chains globally, including the supply of clinical equipment such as that required for cardiac surgery. All countries across the Pacific have also incurred significant impact on the availability of clinical staff within their respective health systems due to the most recent waves of influenza and COVID this year. Aspen Medical will start cardiac surgery at Lautoka Hospital by the end of this month.


Question: Mr Prasad Claims Reliable Information Which He Received About Aspen Medical’s Intention To Now Out-Source Medical Services To At Least One Other Provider Despite Initially Signing An Agreement In January 2019 To Manage Lautoka And Ba Hospitals?

Ms Owttrim: Aspen Medical has assumed responsibility for managing Lautoka and Ba Hospitals since April 1 2022 and April 9 respectively.


Question: He Said This Raises The Question Of Aspen Medical’s Competency And Plans To Provide State-Of-The-Art Health And Medical Services?

Ms Owttrim: Aspen Medical has purchased $3.3m of medical equipment including the recently commissioned state-of-the-art CT scanner at Lautoka Hospital, computers to digitise the health services, and equipment to commission the Ba Hospital to international standards through a total refurbishment of both operating theatres and the central sterilising and supply department. In addition, $5.5m of state-of-the art medical equipment has been purchased and is awaiting arrival in Fiji.


Question: Mr Prasad Said He Received Calls From Many Concerned Heart Patients Who Told Him They Were Only Being Screened And Given Clinic Dates For Review Instead Of Being Booked For Any Type Of Surgery Whatsoever?

Ms Owttrim: Cardiac surgery involves screening, selection, and stabilisation of the patient, in order to optimise the outcome for the patient. This involves echo cardiology and other high-end investigations and interventions.

Other essential aspects of patient care include the management and stabilisation of co-morbidities such as diabetes and obesity which must be undertaken prior to such intricate surgery. Only once patients are optimised for surgery and recovery, as is the international standard, can surgery be approved by management to be undertaken.


Question: He Said FNPF Has Pumped Funds Into Health Care (Fiji) Pte Ltd In Which FNPF Has 80 Per Cent Stake With 20 Per Cent Owned By Aspen Medical, That Was Selected As Partners To Manage Lautoka And Ba Hospitals?

Ms Owttrim: Each of our shareholder has contributed start-up funds in accordance with their shareholding.


Question: Mr Prasad Questioned The Governance And Control Of Health Care (Fiji) Pte. Ltd. And Asked Whether It Is True That The Five-Member Health Care Ltd Board Is Controlled By Aspen With Three Members While FNPF, Which Owns 80 Per Cent Of The Company, Has Two Members?

Ms Owttrim: The Board composition is in accordance with the Special Purpose Vehicle Shareholder Agreement.


Question: Mr Prasad Asked If The Initial Agreement Between FNPF And Aspen Was Amended To Accommodate Out-Sourcing?

Ms Owttrim: No amendments have been made to the extent agreements with FNPF. The Concession Agreement has always allowed for sub-contracting, under the management of Aspen Medical.



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