25 Jul 2007

Non-essential health services to be cut in Fiji because of nursing strikes

8:12 pm on 25 July 2007

Plans are being made to curb all non-essential health services in Fiji as the nursing strike continues.

The Fiji Nurses Association says almost one thousand nurses around the country have walked off their jobs after unsuccessful talks on the restoration of their 5% pay cut.

The director of Health Services, Dr Margaret Cornelius, says the main part of their contigency plan is to cut down all non-essential services so all accident and emergency centres can be covered.

She says they're also looking at getting retired nurses and volunteers to help out while the negotiations continue.

"We are trying our best but I think if there's no resolution soon then we will be looking into other extended contingency plans but at the moment we are coping and we are looking into whatever other ways we can to keep the essential services going."

Doctor Cornelius says nurses stations will be closed down if those nurses are needed to work in the Accident and Emergency area.

Meanwhile, the Fiji Women's Rights Movement is asking the country to support its striking nurses.

The Movement's Executive Director, Virisila Buadromo, says nurses provide an invaluable service for Fiji's people, but are underpaid and undervalued.

She says the movement supports the nurses and is urging the authorities and other citizens to allow them to strike and protest in peace, and not engage in intimidation or harassment.