The Ministry of Health says that there is a current surge in the loss of healthcare workers, particularly nurses, impacting its ability to deliver the operational plans effectively.
Speaking in Parliament, the Minister Responsible Dr Antonio Lalabalavu said nurses constitutes the largest health workforce in the Ministry.
He said the Ministry has put together a number of strategies to retain nurses to counter the impact of mass turnover.
Dr Lalabalavu said the Ministry is working to adjust salaries of Registered Nurses to match their years of experience, which acknowledges the expertise that the nurses have acquired over the many years of practising their profession.
He said the upgrading of salaries of nurses at entry level to the Government salary band F from the lower salary level band E previously used – and also the introduction of an eight per cent gross salary retention allowance for all cadre of nurses.
The Ministry also highlighted that they will engage with the Fiji Nursing Council to consider the reduction of the Internship Program from the current 18 months to 12 months to allow new nursing graduates who have completed the 12 months to undertake their rural attachments as fully paid nurses mentored by senior public health nurses while delivering nursing services in the community.
“The Ministry is also engaging with the three nursing training institutions in the country to ascertain the number of nurses in training and those who are graduating, and to facilitate the timely assimilation of nursing graduates who have passed the Nursing Registration Examination.”
“The Government’s earlier decision to extend the retirement age of civil servants from 55 years to 60 years provided a broader base for the health workforce which somewhat cushioned the effect of the mass exodus of healthcare workers,” he added.
The Ministry is working to boost the workforce numbers to enhance the services provided at health facilities, while at the same time improve working conditions.