Top Health official unclear over suspension on St Vincent arrangement

By Alfred Sasako

SOLOMON Islands’ top Health official has confirmed being aware of the suspension of the 10-bed arrangement with Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital, but added “not very clear on the reasons” for it.

“I’m aware of the suspension but not very clear on the reasons,” Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Dr Tenneth Dalipada told Island Sun this week.

“All we were informed last year is allocations for (the) 10-bed (arrangement) has been exhausted and we will have to wait until the next financial year,” Mr Dalipada said in an email.

He also dismissed reports that patients on the 10-bed arrangements were paid allowance.

“The ministry never pays for patients’ allowance, we only cover their rent, food, logistic in picking them up at the airport, paying for medications on discharge, paying for consultation if patients are seen at the private clinic. We also pay for test or investigations if done outside the public part of St Vincent’s Hospital.

“It’s not correct that patients (were) paid any allowance, imagine what this will create. (The) National Referral Hospital usually pay for allowances for patients which was stop(ped) in 2008, I think.”

“For budgetary purpose there is an estimate for cost per person but we don’t pay allowances. (The) Ministry of Health and Medical Services’ allocation for last year and 2016 were not exhausted due to the current CEO strict ruling on budgetary allocation and not 10 beds as was the case before.”

Dalipada stopped short of saying whether an interim arrangement is being organised for patients whose illnesses could not be determined locally.

The management of St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney confirmed last week that the 10-bed arrangement is suspended until “outstanding issues” are resolved, confidential documents obtained by the Island Sun newspaper last week showed.

It adds that both the Ministry of Health and Medical Services and Solomon Islands High Commissioner in Canberra were fully aware of these issues.

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