RNs - Fiji

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Nurses seek special pay

Fiji Times, March 3, 2006

The issue of special allowances for nurses who work in high-risk areas or have specialised qualifications is being pursued again with the Government. Yesterday, it was agreed that the special allowances be granted at a meeting between the Fiji Nursing Association, the Health Ministry and the Public Service Commission. This was confirmed by Health chief executive Dr Lepani Waqatakirewa, who said the matter would now be taken up with the Health Minister Solomone Naivalu. FNA general secretary Kuini Lutua said it was only fair that the special allowances be granted because some nurses had additional training and ought to be rewarded for their initiative and higher skills. "For example the specialist nurses in intensive care units who have been trained in how to operate technology," she said. "These nurses have upgraded their knowledge to be specialised in that area unlike the nurse who has only a diploma." She said this would encourage nurses to undergo training and acquire different skills. "The changing role the nurses have to play and everyday they have to use different types of technology. In developing countries nurses need to know and specialise in different fields." She said the high-risk allowances were for nurses who were exposed to risk. "For example nurses at the X-ray unit are exposed to so much radium, which they have to go through everyday and nurses are exposed to risk everyday," said Ms Lutua. Meanwhile, Dr Waqatakirewa said the ministry would install an air-conditioning unit in the Nausori Health Centre which is plagued by heavy dust from nearby road works. "We are still having dialogue to do that and also having talks with the road department to tarseal roads," he said. The major roadwork was causing health problems because of the excessive dust the work generated.

Nurses, teachers, youths talk health

Fiji Times, February 25, 2006

Nurses, teachers and youth groups have been taught ways to pass on reproductive health measures effectively to the community in a bid to reduce health problems. Reproductive and Family Health Associates Fiji officer Matelita Seva said most participants at a five-day workshop in Lautoka were aware of reproductive health but not how to get the message across effectively. "It is a client-centred approach," she said. "For example, most of the nurses are seen as clinical nurses, so we are here training them to relay the information to the community, the teachers to be successful when talking to the school community and the youths when they are talking to their peers," she said. Ms Seva said the increase in cases of HIV/AIDS, sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) and teenage pregnancies were a concern to everyone in society. She said many people were affected because they did not get a clear message of what they ought to do if put under sexual pressure. "They cannot negotiate with their partners or peers," she said. "Most of the youths will feel that if the rest are doing it, they must do it too."

Communities urged to support nurses

Fiji Times, February 20, 2006

The Fiji Nursing Association has called on people in outer island communities to support nurses posted to help them. FNA secretary Kuini Lutua made the comment after reports of problems encountered by nurses posted to outer islands and villages in the interior of the country. "It is for the community's own convenience that we bring health services closer to them, but if they don't support the nurses then it becomes very difficult to provide the service. It also becomes more expensive for the community to seek health services elsewhere," she said. Ms Lutua said one of the most common complaints by nurses was of harassment, especially of young nurses. "One of the latest complaints is because of a difference in religious faiths. Some of the nurses are Christians but belong to a different church than the community and that created a rift," Ms Lutua said. "The association would back that they are there as civil servants to do their job and their religion is their own choice and the people should give them their full support regardless of what faith they follow." Ms Lutua said problems were less prevalent in cases where nurses had extended family on the island or in the village. "For Fijian communities, traditional Fijian protocol is followed where the family takes a sevusevu (traditional presentation) to ask village elders to look after the nurse. In places where that's done, nurses fit in well and feel comfortable doing their work. This method has worked well in the past years." Teci Nursing Station in the Yasawa Group was last week reported to have been vacant for months after villagers harassed a nurse posted there.

Nurses take up new course

Fiji Times, February 18, 2006

The Fiji School of Nursing has a new curriculum which will equip nurses with the knowledge to deal with modern medicine and technology. Fiji Nursing Association general secretary Kuini Lutua said they raised the issue with management and the ministry. She said there was a need to have the curriculum designed to include modern medical procedures conducted in hospitals. "There are a lot of procedures which are conducted in hospitals that student nurses need to learn in school, especially the use of modern information technology because there have been a lot of new diseases," she said. Ms Lutua said the new course was designed by the Health Ministry in partnership with James Cook University of Australia. She said not only was the curriculum upgraded at the school but working nurses have continued their education on long-distance learning and studying for a degree in nursing at James Cook, University of Southern Queensland and Central Queensland University. Ms Lutua said some senior nurses who graduated from CQU and James Cook with one-year degree course of 10 units had become senior officers in the Health Ministry. "The association supports nurses furthering their education but it could also have a negative effect because the degrees are recognised overseas and most of the nurses are looking at greener pastures overseas," she said. Ms Lutua said the Government has introduced the course at James Cook University and provided scholarships for experienced nurses. She said there were more than 20 nurses studying for their degree and they were happy with the new medical issues learnt from the course because it helped with their work. Health Ministry acting chief executive Asaeli Tamanitoakula said the new curriculum, teaching facilities and upgrading of tutor qualifications. He said this was revealed during the 2005 annual corporate plan review conducted last week and it included a new library and clinical laboratory. More upgrading health services at the ministry included sanitation facilities improved in a number of communities in the Central and Northern divisions. He said there was remuneration for community health workers provided through the ministry and work skill had been upgraded. Mr Tamanitoakula said there was innovative management of diabetes trialed using a home-based care model in the Central Division and early detection and intervention for non-communicable diseases implemented in the Western Division. "There was an increase of 38 per cent in health promoting settings as in villages, schools and other settings," he said.

Nurses fear island posting

Avinesh Gopal, Fiji Sun, February 17, 2006

The Fiji Nursing Association is concerned about the safety of its members stationed in outer islands. Nurses are reportedly frightened to be posted to a nursing station in Yasawa because of harassment by youths there. A nurse who was based at the Teci Nursing Station in Yasawa ran away from there early this year after being harassed by youths. The association said it was yet to receive a complaint from the nurse but it was concerned about the safety of its members. It said there was nothing wrong in nurses pulling out of nursing stations if they felt threatened. ... Nurses

Cancer levels soar among Fiji nurses - union official

Radio New Zealand International, February 14, 2006 UTC

An alarming number of Fiji nurses are reported to be dying from cancer.

The Fiji Sun reports that sixteen nurses died of cancer in 2004 and 2005.

It quotes the general secretary of the Fiji Nurses Association, Kuini Lutua, as saying this is highest number of deaths from cancer ever recorded in the profession.

Mrs Lutua says previously only one or two nurses used to die from cancer each year.

But she says the death of eight nurses from cancer in 2004 and another eight in 2005 is alarming. ... Cancer

Passion to nurse pays off

Seema Sharma, Fiji Times, January 20, 2006

Two Florence Nightingales who collectively have 57 years experience serving in hospitals around the country and are now managers in their field are asking their colleagues to work with passion and dedication. Litia Cava is the general manager of Labasa Hospital and Silina Waqa is general manager for community health in the Northern Division. Both women said they wanted to inspire nurses to study and excel in their careers before opting to migrate for greener pastures. Mrs Cava, of Nadali, Bau, has 37 years experience and the eldest child in her family of two younger brothers and eight sisters. Being the only one in the medical field, she has inspired a niece to become a nurse while her son is a ward assistant at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital. But her journey to the top has not been easy, being sent home in fifth form because her school fees had not been paid. The former Adi Cakobau School student remembers clearly that day in 1964 when she returned home to tell her parents she could not continue Form Five because the school had introduced a fee system. Mrs Cava said her mother was a very strong woman and took the next bus to the school. She said she was ashamed because she did not have the money but her mother would not budge. "My mother politely asked the head mistress what we were supposed to do as we did not have money and she desperately wanted me to continue my education. "While leaving home she told me if the discussions did not go well we would pick my things and return to the village. "I was prepared for the worst but God had his plans and the headmistress allowed me to finish Form Five. She suggested I fill in the nursing form, applications for which were closing the same week. I was a bit scared because we had to sit the New Zealand examination papers and it was known that many locals failed in the first three months. So 20 girls from ACS enrolled in the class at the Central School of Nursing and after a three-month probationary period only six of us were promoted to the New Zealand class. It was a big day for me and my family because I was their hope since my father was a subsistence farmer and was finding it hard to make ends meet. After staying with relatives I managed to graduate and started helping my family educate the other children. It was this humble beginning that always encouraged me to study further and excel in my career. I am glad my mother pushed me until I became someone and overcame my fears and insecurities," said Mrs Cava. Graduating in 1968, Mrs Cava never look backed and six years later did a certificate in New Zealand Midwifery and a Certificate in Public Health Nursing. In 1981 she finished an Advanced Diploma in Maternal and Infant Health Nursing in New Zealand and 13 years later she managed to complete her Bachelors in Nursing from La Trobe University in Australia. Mrs Cava's zest to study did not end there and she continued into management and postgraduate studies. She said nurses faced many challenges at work but the profession required dedication and passion. Mrs Cava said it was sad to see many nurses leaving for greener pastures. She said although they could not be stopped, she hoped in years to come more would decide to stay and serve the country. Mrs Cava said she had never thought of migrating because she had a lot of memories to treasure and had benefited greatly from career in Fiji. She said she wanted to retire with contentment because she had served to the best of her abilities and would continue to inspire others to do their best in their chosen field. Silina Waqa, of Galoa, Kadavu, was born and raised in Levuka and is the eldest of six siblings. Being the only one in the medical profession and her father a Public Works Department worker, she too was needed to help with the running of the house. She said she missed becoming a doctor by two months because her offer letter into the Fiji School of Medicine came late. Ms Waqa said after starting her nursing classes she did not want to switch although her first choice had been to become a doctor. She said she loved public health had spent most of her 20-year career working in rural areas and serving in district hospitals. Ms Waqa said she had never thought of migrating or marrying because she was too engrossed in work. She said some of her friends labelled her as being selfish but she did not mind because she was career-oriented and knew she was not ready to share her life with anyone yet. Ms Waqa graduated in 1984, did a Certificate in Midwifery five years later and a Certificate in Public Health from the Fiji School of Nursing in 1995. Two years later she graduated with distinction with a Bachelors in Nursing from the University of Sydney and in 2002 she did a postgraduate Diploma in Health Sciences from the University of Auckland. Ms Waqa said education had no end and she was looking forward to sharing her knowledge with her juniors. She said she loved community health and was often on the road visiting nursing stations and health centres. Ms Waqa said for her the sky was the limit and she was looking forward to a long and flourishing career in Fiji. She said she had not thought of migrating because she loved the country and the profession. Ms Waqa said being a born-again Christian had helped her inculcate her faith with her work. She said nursing was about loving the job and serving people with love. Both women said nursing was a noble profession and they could not have picked a better career. They said nurses should not be discouraged but remain focused and do their job with dedication.

Nurses to receive overdue pay

Fiji Times, January 12, 2006

Nurses who missed out on a salary increase following the 2000 Job Evaluation Exercise will receive upgraded salaries today, says the Fiji Nurses Association. Association general secretary Kuini Lutua confirmed that nurses should receive their new salary scale this pay. Public Service Commission chief executive officer Anare Jale said the new salary structure was part of the undertaking PSC made to the nurses last year.

Copyright © 2004, Fiji Times Limited. All Rights Reserved

Pay us or else, nurses warn

Fiji Sun, December 11, 2005

While members of the Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions (FICTU) are rejoicing over their Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) payout, Fiji Nursing Association has expressed disappointment on the Government’s actions thus far. Mrs Kuini Lutua, the general secretary of FNA has expressed her utter disappointment of COLA delays. The association is still negotiating regarding their payment while FICTU members have been offered a payout of three percent. “The government has prolonged the negotiations and our members are losing patience. They have not paid nurses’ COLA from 2004 and since then we have only waited,” said Mrs Lutua. FNA’s fury comes, as nurses have not also received their merit payment since 2002. The merit payments that actually increase the level of nurses’ real wages have not been paid out and as a result the nurses are losing out.

Computers a boost for student nurses

Fiji Times, December 8, 2005

Student nurses now have access to computers, enhancing their training at the Fiji School of Nursing.

It is the first time for a computer laboratory to be opened in the nursing school.

It follows 18 new computers donated by Ministry of Health for the benefit of the 400 students enrolled in two major classes.

Deputy school principal Saubhag Balgovind said it was a blessing as the computers were greatly needed in the school.

"It is a great help because now the students will be able to give in typed assignments instead of handwritten ones.

"They will be able to do their research with the help of the Internet," Ms Balgovind said.

She said the computers would now connect the students to the rest of the world and help broaden their knowledge.

Fiji nurses angry at government reneging on pay deal

Radio New Zealand International, November 24, 2005

Fiji’s nurses could strike again after what they say is the government’s failure to honour the agreement they reached in their last strike in August.

The general secretary of the Fiji Nurses Association, Kuini Lutua, says the nurses are very unhappy because the government is challenging the award agreement reached with the arbitrator last August.

She says at the same time, the Government has cut the nurses salaries for the three days they were on strike in August. ... Fiji

Nurses’ pay cut

Salt on old wounds heightens strike threat.
Fiji Sun, November 24, 2005

Nurses who are members of the Fiji Nursing Association will have their salaries cut this week. Association general secretary Kuini Lutua said the pay cut for the three days nurses went on a nationwide strike in protest against the Government’s failure to pay their allowances was made at the wrong time when they were still waiting for their payout, three weeks past the deadline to which they had agreed before the Arbitrator.

“What we’re frustrated about is that the Government has not implemented anything in regards to the arbitrator’s ruling and already it is going ahead with the pay cut,” Mrs Lutua said. “I’ve just received calls from some nurses who have had $90 deducted from their pay.” Mrs Lutua said with the mounting frustration, nurses could now do anything. “Matters have piled up. Deadlines have come and gone and the Government, the biggest employer in the country, has done nothing,” she said. “This is the Government’s prerogative.” She said nurses should not be blamed for any industrial action because the memorandum of agreement they had signed was supposed to have been implemented last month. To date, the agreement was only partially implemented while most of the terms remain outstanding. Ms Lutua said what has been done is the correction of salaries where staff nurses lost out on the non-payment and wrong assimilation from 1997 to 2000.

Nurses reactivate pay strike threat

Fiji Sun, November 23, 2005

Nurses around the country are ready to take the law into their own hands by going on a nationwide strike over the Government’s failure to honour their memorandum of agreement they signed in August. Last night, the Fiji Nurses Association said this time, its members would only call off the strike if the Government pays them cash upfront.

Association general secretary Kuini Lutua told the Fiji Sun that nurses around the country are working in frustration and “can do anything, anytime”. “When people are frustrated, anything can happen,” she said.

“FNA is aware of this and we are very cautious of the situation because the nurses have reached a point where they can do anything drastic. “We are trying to ensure that if they intend to do something, it has to be within the legal framework.”

Give health more, MP says

Fiji Times, November 21, 2005

Twenty per cent of the national budget should be allocated to the health instead of 9 per cent, shadow Health Minister Doctor Gunasargan Gounder says.

Speaking on the 2006 Budget, Dr Gounder such an allocation would the sector to rid itself of the chronic problems it faced.

He said the allocation for capital works in the health sector was inadequate because most health facilities around the country were in a serious state of disrepair and the workmanship and efficiency of the Public Works Department would only worsen these capital projects.

He said the shortage of doctors, specialists and nurses only added to the overall health problems.

He said on average eight nurses resigned each month out of frustration at poor salary, bad working conditions, long working hours and lack of a career path.

Nurses to lose pay over strike action

Fiji Times, November 19, 2005

Nurses who went on a nation-wide strike in August will have their wages deducted over three paydays, in accordance with the number of days they were on strike.

Ministry of Health chief executive Dr Lepani Waqatakirewa said the nurses agreed to the deduction when a memorandum of understanding was signed at the end of the strike.

"The decision to cut their pay for the days the nurses were on strike was agreed to in the signed memorandum of Understanding reached with the Fiji Nurses Association," he said.

"The ministry is just implementing this agreement and we have decided to be kind and deduct the salary over three pay days," said Dr Waqatakirewa.

He said cases of over deducting for the number of strike days would be rectified with the supervisors.

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