MHMS to address bed shortage at NRH

NRH CEO Dr George Malefoasi. Photo by GCU
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THE Ministry of Health and Medical Services has declared it will take measures to address the ongoing bed shortage issue at the emergency ward, national referral hospital (NRH).

Dr George Malefoasi, chief executive officer for NRH, on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS), revealed the measures and steps in a press conference yesterday.

Malefoasi explained to media that the problem of bed shortage issue is “not necessarily creating beds but is more about staffing, having systems and protocols in place”.

He said with the current bed issue shortage, MHMS is now working on external measures to address the matter. These include having a new hospital, Honiara City Council clinics to take up some load from NRH by extending opening hours, to open during public holidays and weekends and to invest in a private clinic.

Malefoasi said MHMS also aims to reduce ‘access block’ internally.

“We want to see that no one should wait unattended by a doctor after seeing by a nurse 30min to one hour after arriving at the designated services areas of the hospital.

“No one should sleep or lay on the floor of the hospital anymore anytime soon, no one will be overlooked while admitted to the ED, no one should die under the roof of the hospital unnecessary without any scientific cause or reasons, no one should be discharged if her/his medical needs are not met or answered and no one should leave the hospital after the treatment without proper discharge and follow up.

“The risk we are anticipating is obviously funding, our budgets were cut, the slow process of procurement which has affected our plans and even the absorptive capacity, no having enough man power we need additional staffs.

“At the end of the day it is team work and we cannot do things without the support of the government,” he said.

Malefoasi stressed, in relation to health investment they are eyeing the NRH business case implementation policy, improving the current set-up and to looking at HCC health centres and relocation.

He said they have looked at three systems in terms of financing the above-mentioned plans; these systems are the Solomon Islands Government (SIG), developing partners and public- private partnership.

Malefoasi said the current problem facing NRH is “increasing demand versus supply of bed”.

He said the ‘sick people flow’ into NRH has increased and their concern is the low risk patient which could have been seen at the clinics – that is where the difficulty comes.

Malefoasi stressed the emergency is overloaded and overcrowded. It is always worse on the weekends and public holidays in which sometimes they see 40 up to 60 patients at ED at one time.

“One of the main reasons for having 40 up to 60 patients at ED is because HCC clinics are closed on weekends and public holidays that makes life really difficult for NRH.

“Most of our primary healthcare services are somehow affected and limited and also when patients come in they remain in the hospital for more than 24 hours because of the severity of their illness.

“All of these problems lead to access block meaning something that is blocking the flow of patients, no previous planning to address this access block problem.

“Otherwise there is no previous planning to look at what is happening so far. We also found that pressure becomes worse because of public health crisis,” he said.

Permanent Secretary to MHMS Pauline McNeil when speaking of government support to NRH said the government have increased support to NRH. 

“We have seen increase on Governments support to NRH this shows commitment that they see as priority for the government so over the years we see increase of budget support.

“Like this year’s budget is SBD28million for NRH unlike 10 years ago. Hence, we have seen additional backing, we are also trying to make use of current support that we have received from COVID to improve some the services at the NRH. So there is definitely support from the government,” McNeil said.