(r-l) Dr. Willie Tokon, Henry Lakeleo, and Amos Warsal —

Ministry of Health representatives at the nurses consultation.

By Jonas Cullwick

Nearly 300 nurses throughout Vanuatu have decided they were happy with the explanation given by senior government officials for the delay to increase their salaries in today’s government payday and the assurance given that this increase will be made in their next pay on July 28, 2017.

The assurance was given by a representation of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Willie Tokon – the Director of Hospital and Curative Services, a representative of the Minister of Finance and the Secretary of the Public Service Commission, Jacques Gideon, when they met with over 100 nurses at the Vila Central Hospital in Port Vila Thursday morning.

Dr. Tokon says the government delegation that met with the nurses at the VCH explained that a technical hitch resulted in the increase in the salaries of the nurses unable to be completed by today’s payday for payment as scheduled under the plan for implementation of the new structure of the Ministry of Health. But that the increase would be paid in the nurses’ next pay on Friday, July 28, 2017 and backdated to July 3, 2017.

He says the Ministry of Finance representative assured the nurses that the increase under the new structure will be paid on July 28 and backdated to July 3. And that the same assurance came from the PSC representative, the Secretary of the Commission, Jacques Gideon.

Dr. Tokon says the nurses were happy with the explanation and the assurances given and decided to return to normal duties.

“The Minister of Health, Jerome Ludvaune, and the Director-General of the Ministry, George Taleo, who are currently on Tanna telephoned this morning to say that the structure implementation has to go ahead for the stability of service delivery and the nurses have to be transferred to the new structure and their increased salaries must be paid next payday,” he adds.

Under the implementation of the new Ministry of Health Structure that was approved with the endorsement of the Ministry of Finance and the PSC, in March this year, a total of 292 permanent nursing staff throughout Vanuatu were to be transferred under the new structure on July 3. This number comprises of registered nurses, midwives, nurse aids, and nurse practitioners.

Acting Finance Officer of the MoH, Henry Lakeleo, says the total cost of the transfer is Vt112,106,418. Under Stage 3 of Phase One of the implementation plan of the structure, permanent clinical, allied and support staff including management and administration, over 600 people in total, will be transferred on August 28 for a total cost of Vt39,020,707, Mr. Lakeleo says.

Dr. Tokon explains that internship officers on contract totaling 90 people in all are not going to be transferred to the new structure until they complete their required internship terms – some two years and some a bit longer.

Lakeleo says the DG of the ministry returned to Port Vila Thursday afternoon and had been briefed by the ministerial team that attended the consultation with the nurses Thursday morning, including Amos Warsal, representative of the MoH.

The Ministerial Budget Committee in 2016 allocated Vt200 million in the 2017 budget for the Ministry of Health to implement the staff structure.

Jonas Cullwick, a former General Manager of VBTC is now a Senior Journalist with the Daily Post. Contact: jonas@dailypost.vu. Cell # 678 5460922

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