The current status of the National Referral Hospital reflects the kind of Health System we have in the country. The National Referral Hospital is not a new issue, but one that continues to be debated year after year.
The National Referral hospital is just like any other employer. It has its own culture and work environment. When there are more hospitals, we will want to find a hospital that best suits us where the service is better. This includes the personality of those who are working there plus their work ethic. In our situation there are not many options, therefore majority of people who are seeking medical treatment will continue to end up at the central hospital where, often there are no doctors available and a hospital with insufficient medication. These people do not have any other choice.
According to a Health Care report from the United States,” a hospital without doctors is a very sterile hotel”. In other words, doctors are key to the provision of healthcare and medical treatment at a hospital because they are the ones who diagnose the patient and perform the procedures or surgeries necessary to heal the patient. At the same time, doctors cannot effectively do their jobs without all the other professionals at the hospital such as nurses, Healthcare IT (Information Technology, Medical Receptionist, Hospital Executive or Administrator, naming only very few.
One of the most burning issues challenging the National Referral Hospital today is often the absence of doctors when the hospital is in great need. When doctors are not available, such a hospital has become a very RISKY Place for the sick. I have not known any national referral hospital that operates without doctors even for a second.
The only National Referral Hospital in the country operates differently where there were nights that the sick returns home without seeing a doctor. This occurs many times especially at night. Most of the nights at the Out Patient, there were only a couple of nurses there or when it comes to worse only one. No doctor with only a couple of nurses at those times were very risky for the sick especially the very young and the very old.
The current experience at the hospital now is that there is no longer enough space to house the very ill. It was very disheartening to see the very young up to the very old continues to be exposed to the dust as most of them are sleeping or resting on the dirty floor and even in the open space of the hospital. How bad could that be?
There is no doubt, this country has very qualified doctors whose purpose is to offer the best quality health care to our people. If this country has qualified doctors, then why is it that these doctors continues to be absent from being available when the sick needs them. From where the people are, there is that tendency to point fingers at these doctors, but there is need to go beyond this. The answer must come from the Ministry responsible and to go beyond to where our national leaders are.
Like many other issues, this country is going backwards instead of going forward. The status of the only National Referral Hospital in the country is insane. The hospital is not in the position to accommodate the number of the sick that comes to seek medical attention. The hospital itself is been challenged with a lot of serious issues such insufficient medication. For instance often many people who have advised by the doctor to get medication from the pharmacy at the national hospital would end up purchasing those at the private pharmacies in Honiara. Many of these people would only return home with nothing because they do not have the money. Apart from this, medications given by the National Referral Hospital often are expired.
The above scenario has given us the kind of health system that exists in this country. Those who can afford quality health care because they can afford it would go to the private medical centres in Honiara where doctors are available, while the unfortunate will continue to seek medical treatment at the hospital regardless of whether they see a doctor or not. Such a system is divisive as well as create a gap between the have and the have nots.
The important issue here is why doctors continues to be absent at the National Referral Hospital when they are needed. What kind of support is in place to boost the work that doctors do? Where are they when it comes to the overall picture of the Ministry responsible? How do they relate to each other in terms of work? Does the Ministry responsible know what is going on in the actual hospital where these doctors work?
The above questions are very basic, but very critical for the effectiveness of how the hospital operates, the Health Professionals that are working there and the people that the hospital serves.