9 Dec 2013

Solomon Islands' second largest hospital faces closure

6:24 pm on 9 December 2013

The Solomon Islands' second largest hospital says people living in the remote parts of Western province will suffer the most if the hospital is forced to closed.

The Helena Goldie Hospital in Munda is facing severe financial problems.

The hospital's secretary, Soraya Pina, says more than 50 nurse aids and auxiliary staff have gone without pay for two months, and they still don't know where to find the money to pay them.

She told Moera Tuilaepa-Taylor the hospital is in financial crisis.

SORAYA PINA: Due to the allocation we receive from the government is not enough. And we cannot pay our bills, like the electricity and pay as you earn and the NPF - that's the superannuation for the staff.

MOERA TUILAEPA-TAYLOR: And how are you guys managing to survive at the moment without paying some of the staff? Are they just hoping that maybe the government will come through with some money?

SP: We received some money recently, but the delay has caused us to increase our debts. Our grant was delayed the last couple of months.

MTT: And I see, too, Soraya, that more than 50 nurse aids and auxiliary staff have gone without pay for two months. Have any of them received any payment since then?

SP: We have to borrow money somewhere to pay up the salaries. When we receive our grants we pay off what we have borrowed.

MTT: So the grant money that you're receiving from the government, the health grant, only covers the debts, but it's not covering enough for the salaried workers.

SP: That's right.

MTT: And what plea have you made to the government? Are they considering increasing the money?

SP: Yeah, the parliament member for this constituency came and visited us last two weeks. And he assured us that he's going to put it to the cabinet to look at it.

MTT: And if you don't receive any more financial help in the next week, where will that leave the hospital? Will you be forced to close?

SP: We'll be looking at trimming down of staff and cutting down our services in other areas because we are serving our communities living in the remote areas. And if this continues to happen we won't be able to pay for their petrol to do [Indistinct] and helping those aged patients coming from the clinics. We are looking after 15 clinics.

Soraya Pina says the hospital services an area with a population of over 26,000 people. She says if they close, most of those people will not be able to travel to Honiara or Gizo for treatment because the cost of travelling will be too expensive.