Link: Pacific Islands Report
Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Discharged Solomons Hospital Patients Stranded In Honiara
Reportedly waiting for hospital to release transit fares

By Daniel Namosuia

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Nov. 20, 2012) – More than two hundred patients discharged from the Solomon Islands’ National Referral Hospital (NRH) are still stranded in Honiara because they are still waiting for their sea fare.

Because of the long delay frustration is mounting amongst the patients saying they cannot cope anymore given the cost of living in the city with relatives and friends.

The patients claimed every time they visited the hospital’s finance department they got the same answer, "kam baek tumoro na" (come back tomorrow).

These patients are from the provinces, referred to the National Referral Hospital for further medical attention.

A visit by the Solomon Star to the hospital yesterday saw frustrated men and women queuing up at the NRH’s finance office wanting to know when they will get their fares.

Most of these patients have been waiting since last month.

And others for this month are still uncertain when they will receive their seafare.

"We cannot wait any longer and are tired of coming here every day to only hear them say, come back tomorrow.

"We are living in town with family members, wantoks and relatives and that costs money. We cannot afford to stay any longer and being parasite on them.

"We feel really bad because we cannot do anything because we are waiting for our fares to return home. Some of us we waited since last month and that is very frustrating.

"How long will we have to wait like this?" one patient wishing not to be named questioned.

"These people should just tell us the definite answer if we are going to be given our fares or not. Otherwise we should not be wasting our time coming here (hospital) every day but secure money somewhere to go back home as soon as possible and arrange how to refund it when the payment is ready," another frustrated patient said.

A finance officer from the finance department, when asked about the delay, said they depend on how quick money is ready and released from the imprest section at the ministry of finance.

Patients lining the hospital’s finance office yesterday were assured that they should receive their fares today.

But this is for only 57 patients of last month plus those who accompanied them.

An estimated SB$40,000 [US$5,404] is said to be paid out to them.

However that amount would not be enough to cover the costs of these 57 patients.

The finance officer said they will have to try and make sure people are taking the cheaper transport home and only to their main port of call.

While the other three groups of this month will have to wait for the end of the week or next week depending on how soon payment is ready, the officer said.

An officer within the ministry of finance’s imprest section when contacted yesterday said they will release funds according to payment vouchers and requisitions raised to them from the hospital’s finance section.

When asked why the process in releasing the funds is taking too long, the officer said dealing with 28 ministries each day is not an easy job especially taking into account their limited human resources.

"One person doing imprest payments for all the ministries is a stressful job and we can’t help it.

"We are experiencing shortage in men power, our system sometimes plays up and trying to meet payment demand for all these ministries at the same time is a very difficult task," another officer within the imprest department said.

Solomon Star
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