The hospital has reportedly had problems hiring younger doctors, and blamed government regulations for that.
But a meeting convened by the Fiji Medical Council has reached an agreement which will see the Suva Private Hospital's doctors allocated senior doctors as mentors and being able to join the Fiji College of General Practitioners, which are requirements for doctors who want to enter private practice.
Dharmesh Prasad, CEO of the Fiji Medical Council, explains the situation to Bruce Hill.
Presenter: Bruce Hill
Speaker: Dharmesh Prasad, CEO of the Fiji Medical Council
PRASAD: The problem was that they did not have enough private practitioners to continue the 24 hour service. As far as I know they had probably about five doctors whereas they would require 15 to run the practice successfully.
HILL: So why didn't they have enough private practitioners?
PRASAD: Maybe it's part of their recruitment process that they're not getting enough applicants.. I've said that that is a problem with the recruitment process rather than the stated issues that they're claiming.
HILL: One of the things that Fiji requires young doctors to do is to get an older doctor as a mentor to show them some of the ropes. Some of the things you don't necessarily learn about being a doctor in medical school. Has that been a problem when it comes to training young doctors and getting them into private practice, they don't have enough access to mentors?
PRASAD: We had
legislation came into place at the close of 2011 so they had a little hiccup where doctors didn't know and they were caught on the blindside because they couldn't get the mentors. But now we've seen that progress has been made and then there's very few, probably there's no one I would know who would have said that I cannot find a mentor.
HILL: So has this all been sorted out now, the Suva private hospital is now going to be able to recruit all the doctors that it needs to keep open 24 hours a day?
PRASAD: Exactly the council has made its stand very clear, the law stands as it is, and the ball is in Suva private hospital's court, where they know the regulations, we're trying to help them out and they need to get in the applications and we'll help them employ new practitioners and with coaches and mentors.
HILL: There's always been a problem with getting people into the medical profession in places like Fiji because as soon as they graduate and they're doctors they can earn a great deal more overseas then they can in Fiji. Is it difficult to keep younger doctors in Fiji once they've become qualified?
PRASAD: I think Bruce it's a little bit more than financial, it's more about ethics. If you ask a new graduate what they want, why are you getting into the profession, they said they want to help people through medicine. So maybe down the line their objective changes, but these strategies
they really do not have a problem on losing out of those doctors now. They've a clear pathway to become a specialist in the next five to ten years. I think we're trying to curtail the problem now.
HILL: A lot of younger doctors everywhere in the world work very, very long hours. Has that been a problem for younger doctors in Fiji?
PRASAD: No I wouldn't say that, Fiji's like any other country in the world all the new doctors really do the hard yards, they're very motivated, they're very focussed and it's good motivation for them to serve their country.
HILL: I understand at the moment that Fiji is actually looking at offering jobs in the Persian Gulf in the United Arab Emirates to a lot of professionals, including nurses and doctors. Is there some concern that there's a bit of an export of doctors from Fiji?
PRASAD: Well what I would like to think is that we'd like to broaden the knowledge space of our country, so we would only have the doctors who are actually going on training in Australia and New Zealand for a couple of years to become specialists, so definitely if they go to the Arab Emirates.