Members Pre-Sitting Briefing Summary
Monday 22nd January 2018
Thirty Members of Parliament met at the Tuanaimato Sports Complex at 9:30am for the Assembly‟s January Pre-Sitting Briefing. Members were briefed by the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, on the National Health Service Amendment Bill
2018, which is to be tabled in the House tomorrow – Tuesday, 23rd January. A summary of the
Ministry‟s presentation and examples of some of the issues raised by Members is provided below.
- National Health Service Amendment Bill 2018
Presenter: Leausa Dr. Take Naseri – Chief Executive Officer
Responsible Ministry: Health.
The Bill essentially seeks to amend the National Health Service Act 2014 (Principal Act) to put into effect the first phase of the merger of the National Health Service and the Ministry of Health. The following are the objects of the bill; to amend the provisions of the Principal Act that establish the composition of the Board, to create a Board that reflects the merger; to give Cabinet general authority to appoint any other member to the Board; to remove the „ineligibility‟ of a person employed by the National Health Service for appointment as a director of the Board; and to give authority to the Board of Directors to appoint a secretary or co-secretaries from its members.
Issues regarding the Introduction of the Bill
– A Member noted concerns over the timing of the introduction of the Bill, stating that it appeared ill timed for the proposed National Health Service and Ministry of Health merge. It was further noted that the Attorney General‟s Office should consider including interim clauses into the Acts of certain Ministries and Corporations to ensure Bills are introduced at the appropriate time (at the beginning of the process for proposed institutional changes).
Issues regarding a “transitional Board”
– Several queries were raised by Members over the mechanics of the Bill:
– some stated that there had been anticipation that the Bill would first disestablish the existing Board of Directors and establish a transitional Board.
– Another comment was in regards to the composition of the Board, Members stated that it was unnecessary to have 3 Ministers and CEO‟s from various Ministries as
Board Members; and then another member recalled a personal reform where he and 3 other members of the Board, separated the roles and duties of the Ministry of Works and the Land Transport Authority.
– The Chief Executive for the Ministry of Health stated that the Board would be a transitional one, which would be in place until the proposed merger was complete. He stated that at that point, a new Bill would be introduced in the House to repeal the existing National Health Service Act. In regards to the shortage of Savaii doctors, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri stated that the Ministry‟s priority was to adequately staff the Moto‟otua and Tuasivi hospitals. The Ministry was discussing probable ways to solve the problem of shortage of doctors in the rural clinics.
– The Chief Executive stated that various Ministers were involved in the task force responsible for the merger; therefore, including these Ministers on the proposed Board would ensure that existing plans associated with the merger would be easily
clarified to the Government.
Existing Employees & Merge Issues
– Several Members queried how the proposed merger would likely impact existing staff. The Chief Executive stated that more than 20 employees would lose their jobs as a result of the merger. These employees were identified to have overlapping functions between the NHS and the MOH. Members noted that there should be severance packages provided to all the employees who would lose their jobs.
Other queries and comments made included the following:
– Who would be responsible for monitoring the Ministry of Health‟s services?
– Which year had “community health visits” ceased?
– There was a need to revisit the Act in order to identify what the problems were that has led to the proposal of another merge.
– Was there a possibility of reinstating “village committees” (hygiene committees), in villages where health checks can be carried out, to provide further assistance for the community in terms of medical care options?
– The Chief Executive noted an example of the need for the proposed merge, stating that the reporting lines at present was that the MOH reports to the Public Service Commission and the Ministry of Finance; whereas the NHS reports to the Ministry of Public Enterprises. In short, the primary purpose of the proposed merger was to better Samoa‟s existing health care services, as opposed to a focus on revenue generation.
– Leausa Dr. Take Naseri further stated that the new organisational structure is in place; current discussions were primarily focused on formulating best possible solutions in terms of implementing the reform.
In the absence of the Hon. Speaker, the Deputy Speaker Tofa NAFOITOA Talaimanu Keti chaired the briefing and concluded with a prayer at 12pm.