Nurses’ strike looms - Solomon Star News

Nurses’ strike looms

01 September 2020

COVID-19 fight looks shaky if nurses walkout


ALL the public health nurses in Honiara are ready to go on strike if the government through the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) continues to disregard their outstanding allowances since June.

This was agreed in their meeting held late yesterday in which they will submit the outcome of the meeting to the Permanent Secretary (PS) for the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS).

A reliable source revealed last night to the Solomon Star in an exclusive interview.

“It must be known that the public health officers cannot take this anymore and they are unhappy for the non-payment of their allowances amidst our continuous fight against COVID-19 pandemic,” the source said.

The source claimed that at the beginning of the COVID-19 operation MHMS permanent secretary instructed all public health nurses and other public health officers to support the COVID-19 response.

While the response from the public health workers was good the remuneration was not forthcoming since June.

“I can confirm now (last night) that the Nurses Union has stepped in with a meeting late this evening to discuss the matter.

“The meeting was held between representatives from the Health Surveillance Unit and the Nurses Union,” the source added.

This paper understands that the Surveillance Unit is responsible for public health nurses.

The Surveillance Unit is also responsible for organizing teams of nurses to do daily monitoring of people in the quarantine and also organizing COVID-19 testing.

They also monitor flu-like illnesses presented to the clinics around the capital.

The source said that following the PS’s directives the Surveillance Unit carries out work by which they recruit public health nurses to perform COVID-19 undertaking.

During the meeting, the public health nurses also questioned the leadership of their unit whether the leader is competent or not.

The nurses also complained that they lack proper facilities, it was revealed.

“There are no facilities like proper shower rooms in place for them to have their shower after being exposed to a high-risk environment before they can return to their families.

“This is very risky for our health workers including their families because they are ones come into contact with the people traveling into the country from COVID-19 countries,” the source said.

Another interesting event the source revealed last night was the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) puts health workers at risk by swab travelers in the NRH conference room.

According to the source the EOC refers to a physical location or virtual space in which designated public health emergency management personnel to assemble to coordinate operational information and resources for the strategic management of public health events and emergencies.

The swab exercise on the site had brought disagreement between the medical superintendent and the EOC staff recently.

“This is very risky if the responsible authorities do not take into serious consideration,” the source said.

One source within MHMS calls on the responsible authority to act professionally and address the claims made by the Public Health Nurses before the country welcomes the repatriation flight from China.

Meanwhile, it was claimed that the PS is aware of this issue.

Attempts to get comments from the PS last night were unsuccessful.

MHMS Corporate Communications Officer Atenia Tahu when contacted last night said he is not aware of the issue but assures the paper response from the ministry will be issued today.