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Letter: Pay rise for health workers

Monday 21 August 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion


Letter: Pay rise for health workers

Dear Editor, Obesity, diabetes, hospital lack of maintenance – what do they have in common?

On reading many articles and reports in the Cook Island News, the common denominators are the Minister of Health (MOH) and the Secretary of Health (SOH).

The apparent lack of understanding of the needs of the community and visitors’ health and wellbeing requirements is astounding.

The Secretary I can understand, an ex-police officer, may not know the difference between a band aid versus a bandage or the basic technical medical terminology.

If the Secretary advises the Minister of Health, it is little wonder that many of the services provided are in a third world environment. The staff are expected to deliver a first world service in such an environment and not complain and no support.

“It’s about budget, or lack of”, they cry (MOH/SOH).

Here are some simple yet effective interventions that can be achieved.

The estimated $30,000 cost for the MOH, SOH and retiring Dr May to spend a week in Barbados recently, discussing topics that would not benefit the Cook Islands seems poor planning. Estimated at $10,000 each (airfares, accommodation, meals, salary attendance fees.)

That $30,000 could be utilised to employ staff to work directly with people struggling with managing their diabetes, therefore preventing hospitalisations and improving wellness.

The vehicles the SOH and MOH are driving are valued at approximately $100,000 (while hospital staff can use a van that is worth at best $2000 and falling to pieces)

If the SOH and MOH were to utilise more moderate vehicles the $50,000, saving could be spent to make a huge difference in hospital maintenance and appearance, not to mention improved patient and staff welfare.

What other trips have the SOH and/or the MOH made in 2023 and what did they bring back to the TMO to utilise for the wellness of the Cook Islands people?

How does Mr Williams explain to staff that were promised pay to increase a year ago why that hasn’t been done?

It appears to be overdue that the real questions are asked, and definitive answers provided, that is of course if they are in the country to answer.

(Name and address supplied)

Secretary of Health Bob Williams replies – In short, your writer should consider himself/herself to be lucky in the Cook Islands where the health system is better off compared to other countries. I do reply to constructive comments or letters to your paper but this one is a personal attack and our Government, my Minister, TMO and our communities are well aware of the improvements done to our health system. The proposed staff remuneration will be implemented soon and all staff are aware of the delay for reasons outside of our control. I have an open door policy and anyone is most welcome to see me otherwise we have a complaint portal on our TMO Page for people to raise issues or complaints. Meitaki.


Te Tuhi Kelly on 21/08/2023

Yes a typical senior public servant answer is to come out and defend the indefensible. Distractions and platitudes, turn it into a personal attack rather than answer or at least try to answer the issues raised. We want tangible evidence, time lines and outcomes which is useful for better understanding.

graham roper on 21/08/2023

Mr Williams reply makes the comment that "its personal" and also he will answer constructive comments to then say Its a "personal attack." Mr Williams hasnt answered the questions or commented on the alternative spending options or why the promised pay rise to the Ambulance staff was not forth coming. The MOH and Mr Williams need to front up to the pulic, not hidden in the office or a use nameless portal. Nothing personal in asking, why promised pay increases weren't honoured, Why money is spent traveling overseas or why excessive money is spent of vehicles that add no value to the service . Lucky , compared with which countries? Luck has nothing to do with providing services to the people they actually pay for.