Mass nurse resignation claims unfounded, says Health Ministry

Fiji’s Minister for Health Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete says assertions that nurses are resigning because of work stress is false and unfounded.

Responding to claims by the Fiji Nurses Association and the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre, Dr Waqainabete referred to its nurses’ resignation data between 2018 and 2021 that showed that out of 437 exits, 65 percent resigned, but for reasons relating to migration and overseas job opportunities while some others chose to pursue further studies.

“Resignation of nurses and other health care workers had existed before the pandemic and will continue after the pandemic,” Dr Waqainabete said. “This is all part of a natural employment cycle; employees join and employees depart. “However, the ministry remains committed to ensuring that shortfalls in the workforce are addressed as quickly as we can, and we continue doing all we can to look after the welfare of all its staff as they deliver health care services to all Fijians.”

Over the same four-year period, the ministry recruited 678 nurses.

Dr Waqainabete also dismissed claims that the ministry employs a top to bottom approach and as such concerns and needs of nurses are never heard.

“I ensure there is a bottom-up approach as I give out my mobile number and email address to my staff to call or email me directly if there are burning issues that need to be addressed in their areas of services. And I do get emails, calls, and viber messages from the ministry staff. So I am well aware of the concerns and challenges that our staff face in the delivery of health care, and we make every effort to address them as best we can.”

He said like every other health service and health care workers around the world, the last two years have been extremely challenging, that has required some regrouping and reorganisation by the ministry to ensure that whilst health care workers including nurses with pending leaves take their break, there is enough staff staying on to man the health facilities and share the workload.

“I can only stand here today to salute and commend our health workers including our hardworking nurses, and all frontliners, for their dedication, passion, commitment, and sacrifice to stop the disease and turn our nation around quickly in this pandemic.

“In my visits, and as a fellow health care workers, I have always called on all our staff to remember our oath and our calling to serve the people of Fiji to the best of our abilities.”

Photo: File photo showing newly graduated nurses from Labasa at the Labasa Airport for the trip to Suva brought in to help bolster health services and their colleagues particularly in the two cities including Lautoka during the second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak in Fiji last year.

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