Minister of Health Sonya Talagi yesterday confirmed during question time at the Fono Ekepule that several nurses will arrive from Samoa next month to help with the staff shortage at the Health Department.
The minister was responding to questions from Common Roll Member O’love Jacobsen about the staffing issues at the Health Department’s Aged Care facility.
Minister Sonya Talagi said “Like many other Government agencies there is a shortage of workers at the Aged Care Unit, however, the main hospital is providing support towards the Aged Care Unit to ensure that sufficient staff are available to care for our elderly. We currently have nurses from Tonga and we are actively working to bring in nurses from Samoa by October at the earliest”.
Jacobsen continued with more questions about where the Government intends to accommodate the nurses given the lack of rental properties on the island.
The issue of limited long-term rental properties has been an ongoing concern for the Government since the loss of many government flats located at Aliluki in 2004. There are some rental properties in Alofi but the cost is often too expensive for the expatriate workers.
However, Minister Sonya Talagi assured the Fono that the nurses will be properly accommodated when they arrive. “We have been working hard and planning with agencies, there is accommodation. We have accommodation secured for short term workers from Samoa”
Talagi said that this issue over the lack of available rental accommodation is not ideal and it’s perhaps something that the people on the island can consider to renovate derelict homes for long-term rentals.
“It is a precarious situation. It’s important for us as a people to look at the derelict houses that we have on Niue to see what residences can be renovated to be used for accommodation for workers and not just for tourism but we have put provisions in place to ensure that the nurses we have coming on a short-term basis will be properly accommodated when they arrive”.
The minister announced that she and her Health Team have met with the Niue Nurses Association in New Zealand and hope to build a stronger relationship in the future but for now, the Government will look to countries like Samoa for more nurses to help at the Health Department.
Over the past many years, the Government’s employing authority the Public Service Commission have recruited nurses for the Health Department from the Philippines, Tonga, Fiji and now Samoa. There are several Niuean nurses currently in training in Fiji and in New Zealand.
Meanwhile, the position of Director of Health is open for expressions of interest along with the position of Chief Medical Officer both roles have been carried by Dr. Edgar Akauola for more than a decade.