30 Dec 2005

Main hospital in PNG's capital struggling with ex-PM in intensive care

12:52 pm on 30 December 2005

A report from Papua New Guinea says the former prime minister Sir Bill Skate will be flown to hospital in Australia today for further medical treatment.

Sir Bill has been treated in intensive care at the general hospital in the capital Port Moresby since Tuesday; he's now expected to be taken to Brisbane.

The Post Courier newspaper reports members of the PNG doctors' association are threatening to stop work if nurses don't end their strike over pay demands.

Most of the hospital's 6-hundred nurses are striking, forcing the emergency department to shrink to one ward.

The director of medical services, Dr Simon Mete, says replacement nurses are still being hired.

"We've actually got 46 nurses on the ground now, and then we are continuing to recruit more, whilst we are doing that, our senior nurses have come back. We've got 20 senior nurses coming back, and so we're able to run the emergency services really."

Dr Mete says volunteer workers are also helping out.