Call to keep messages consistent

National

THE Health Department has to be consistent with its messages on issues like the shortage of medical supplies to avoid fear and confusion.
This was according to Health Minister Sir Puka Temu when he made his intentions known about his instructions stopping health workers from speaking publicly about issues.
He said the circular was not intended to stop them from holding a view on issues they felt strongly about.
“The purpose of the circular was for the Health Department to be consistent with its messaging to avoid fear and confusion in the community, especially on sensitive issues like the shortage of medical supplies,” Sir Puka said in a statement yesterday.
He said the circular had nothing to do with trying to avoid public scrutiny or suppressing people’s rights to freedom of speech.
“In every organisation, public or private, the head of the organisation is normally the official spokesperson,” he said. “In the case of the Health ministry and the department, I will handle policy issues while the secretary will deal with the administrative matters in terms of public comment.”
Sir Puka said all staff employed by the department, or working in public hospitals, were on the public payroll and their first priority should be to serve the government of the day.
He said he has an “open-door policy” and he was keen to hear the views of all those who wished to improve the health system.
Sir Puka explained that within the Health system were multiple avenues for staff to register issues and concerns with their supervisors, senior management, hospital and PHA boards, public seminars and other mechanisms.
He said in the case of the shortage of medical supplies, he had already given instructions to the Health Department to quickly resolve the issues.
“We now have medical supplies arriving in government stores throughout the country,” he said.
“Just recently, I secured K16 million in additional funding to procure medical kits for aid posts and health centres.
“I have directed the department to settle all outstanding bills and next week, I intend to approach Cabinet again with a further
request for funds to address these issues.”
Sir Puka has asked the department, as part of his first 100 days plan, to develop a two-year procurement programme so that the shortage of medical supplies becomes a thing of the past.

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