15 May 2018

Fiji looks for private hospital operators, to the concern of nurses

8:41 pm on 15 May 2018

The Fiji Government is seeking expressions of interest from international private hospital operators to help it develop, upgrade, equip and run the Ba and Lautoka hospitals.

generic hospital ward

Photo: 123RF

Under the planned partnership agreement a private operator will run both hospitals, provide the staff, modern medical equipment and relevant training.

The private operator will also construct a new hospital wing at the Lautoka hospital and upgrade the existing health facilities.

The Fiji Nurses Association has voiced concern over the proposed public-private partnership, fearing wages, conditions and jobs could be negatively affected by the involvement of a private operator.

But the Minister of Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said no existing health staff would lose their jobs.

He said after the private sector operator comes on board, staff at Lautoka and Ba hospitals would be offered the choice to sign new employment contracts with the operator or continue to work for the government in other public health facilities.

The International Finance Corporation, which is part of the World Bank group, is helping the Fiji Government structure the project and the Fiji National Provident Fund, together with the chosen operator, will be the majority investors.

But Michael Whaites from Public Services International in Australia said he was worried about the proposal blurring privatisation with economic development.

"We're really concerned that across the Pacific and indeed across Asia a number of development banks are pushing privatisation as the only solution to development. And yet we see the sustainable development goals set by the UN. You know, when you look at the best way to provide health it's through government provided, government run health services, I mean the evidence for that is strong."