27 Jul 2007

Claim Fiji nurses' strike contributed to two deaths at Suva hospital

10:14 am on 27 July 2007

There are reports of at least two patients dying at Fiji's largest hospital in Suva as most nurses continue their strike into its third day.

The Fiji Sun says non-unionised nurses working 12-hour shifts are not able to cope with the workload and provide treatment for all patients needing it.

The newspaper quotes a nurse who did not wish to be named for fear of victimization that two patients had died in the Men's Surgical Ward since the strike began at midnight on Tuesday.

She said an asthmatic Fijian man died because no medical staff were nearby to help him when he suffered an attack.

Later an Indian male patient was found dead in his bed after no one attended to him that night.

Overworked nurses are quoted as saying they are stressed out and can do little under the circumstances.

A doctor who did not wish to be named said the health ministry's contingency plan had failed at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital.

The director of clinical services, Dr Margaret Cornelius, has denied reports of any deaths during the strike.

But nurses working at the hospital say those higher up in the medical ranks are most often in the dark on the situation in the wards.