Vanuatu nurses face uncertainty over pay resumption
The Vanuatu government says nurses pay will return to normal by end of week, but nurses are still unsure of future.
The Vanuatu Health Ministry is denying 100 contract nurses were told they will no longer be paid, and says pay for nurses will be back to normal by the end of the week.
The Vanuatu Nurses Association says some nurses have not received salaries for months and some are uncertain about their future.
Leilani Momoisea reports:
The Vanuatu Nurses Association said earlier this week that 100 contract nurses at Port Vila Central Hospital were told they will no longer be paid, apparently because the Ministry is short of funds. However, the acting Director General of Health in Vanuatu, Dr. Santos Wari, denies this and says the Ministry is not lacking in funds. Dr. Wari says pay problems arose because the human resource and finance areas of the Ministry of Health and the Port Vila Central Hospital were not performing as they should.
SANTOS WARI: But right now the Ministry is taking a very close look at those two departments to improve capacities. In fact all these contracts will have been fed into the system in the last few days. There will be normal contract, and then they will be getting their money normally, starting from the next pay-day, that is this coming Friday.
Dr. Santos Wari says the nurses who are missing pay, will of course be back-paid. The interim president of the Vanuatu Nurses Association, Anne Pakoa, says this is good news, but some nurses are still unclear about their future.
ANNE PAKOA: That's a great assurance, as long as they stick by their word, they can only prove their words in the coming weeks. I think what we're getting now is the frustration from the nurses, I think they feared that if these weeks is going to be their last week of salary payment, then their future would be uncertain.
Dr Santos Wari says to ensure pay delays won't happen again, they are looking at ways of streamlining services within the Ministry of Health and the Port Vila Central Hospital.
SANTOS WARI: As soon as we gave orders for the contract workers to be sorted out, then suddenly we were faced with many, many contracts on the table. In fact, capacity of the Vila Central Hospital, the corporate service, is being looked at, so that there is no such delays in carrying out responsibilities that's under the corporate service of the hospital, so that services can run smoothly from now on.
Anne Pakoa says it's important these issues are sorted out, because the welfare of nurses affects their morale, which in turn affects nurses performance.
ANNE PAKOA: In Vanuatu where we lack a lot of high technical medical equipment, good practical, quality nursing care is what we need. And if the the nurses welfare are not being met, and their basic needs are not being met, and their salaries are not being paid, then that can affect the standard of nursing care as well.
She says it's critical that the dialogue between the nurses and the Ministry of Health continues. The Ministry says it's expected nurses pay will be back to normal on Friday.
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