By KARO JESSE and LULU MARK
CHIEF Justice Sir Gibbs Salika has called on the Health Department to improve the work environment at the Port Moresby General Hospital, and to stop specialist doctors from working in private clinics or hospitals.
During a ceremonial sitting for the late Justice Jim Wala Tamate yesterday at the Waigani National Court, Sir Gibbs said he was compelled to make such remarks because “human rights issues are raised in most medical care cases”.
“I had something to say about Justice Nicholas Kirriwom’s death in the Pacific International Hospital and its medical team. Now I have something to say about the passing of Jim Wala Tamate in PMGH,” Sir Gibbs said.
He said Justice Tamate’s death came after the judiciary had farewelled two other judges, the late Justice Nicholas Kirriwom and the late Justice Regina Sagu within a period of three months.
Sir Gibbs said providing proper medical care was the primary responsibility of the Government which must ensure that medical equipment in hospitals and clinics be the best to deal for the health of the people.
Sir Gibbs called on the Government to stop government doctors, especially at PMGH, from working in private clinics.
“Tamate was admitted on April 17 in PMGH’s Intensive Care Unit. After he responded positively to medical care, he was transferred to Ward 8, a private cubicle. On April 24, he was moved to Ward 1D, where he developed more problems with his bleeding and died gasping for air. Why move him from Ward 8 to Ward 1D?” Sir Gibbs said.
PMGH chief executive officer Dr Paki Molumi said the hospital provided the best care for patients despite its strained workforce.
“The late judge was not admitted to a private ward but the Covid-19 isolation ward,” Dr Molumi said.
“From our experience over the last 260 days, the Covid-19 isolation ward is confined and not ideal for ICU. We faced a shortage of skilled ICU staff due to many of them being infected with the Covid-19 and isolated.
“Given that situation, clinical decisions was made to move patients to Ward 1D, which has a bigger space where few skilled ICU staff can look after many patients at one time. The late judge was among those patients moved.”
Dr Molumi said not all doctors were involved in private practices.
He said as per the National Doctors Association (NDA) awards, specialist doctors who had practised for more than five years were allowed limited practise.
Health secretary Dr Osborne Liko said specialist doctors as part of an industrial awards agreement between the Department of Personnel Management, Treasury, Finance and the NDA could do private practice but only after hours.
Sir Gibbs suggested that:
- ALL government doctors, especially at PMGH, be stopped from working at private clinics. They are forced to do this as a result of poor pay. So improve their salaries instead;
- ALL Government specialist doctors relocate to hospitals nationwide;
- DOCTORS should not be allowed to hold administration jobs when they should be attending to patients; and,
- DOCTORS should stop accompanying leaders on their overseas trips.