Doctors’ association questions suspension

The president of the National Doctors Association has questioned whether the suspended Popondetta Hospital chief executive was given a chance to defend himself.

Earlier this year, Dr. Gunzee Gawin was suspended by the board for alleged maladministration. He was then reinstated but on December 3rd, the board made the decision to suspend him again. This was after he was arrested and charged by the fraud squad with three counts of conspiracy to defraud, misappropriation of property and abuse of office.

NDA president Dr James Naipao pointed out that our democracy gives the right to a defendant to defend him/herself before a concrete decision is made.

Some of the questions outlined by Dr Naipao included:

  1. Has the Board followed the steps in the General Orders to effect its decision?
  2. Has the Board followed the steps in informing the Department of Personnel Management before executing its decision?
  3. The Board has its powers definitely. Before doing what it did, there must be a higher power that the board reports to, and did the board seek advice or inform this authority before executing this decision?
  4. Administrative wrongs can be administratively corrected? Has Dr. Gawin stolen any money from this Hospital that warrants the decision made by the Board?
  5. It is rightful that the Board, Dr. Gawin, NDoH, Government, the legal team and the Provincial Administration independently hear both sides of the story before a sound decision is being made. Has this been done?
  6. What happened to the first suspension in March 2018, and its deliberations? Does this suspension relate to this or is this a new suspension?

Dr Naipao says the decision the Board makes must be guided by the ‘1994 Public Hospital Act’.

“Provincial Health Authority (PHA) will be declared by the Health Minister on the 12/12/18. Is there any fishy thing attached with this decision?

“The National Doctors Association strongly believes that Dr. Gunzee Gawin is not CEO position hungry, but he must defend himself and defend the established processes that disciplines and that reaches a decision. The Board must follow all processes in place by the constitution and government of PNG, and not the board’s own decision.

“As Dr. Gawin is a Senior Hospital Administrator, respect to following the processes matters more, and more so, he must be given the liberty to be heard.

“Right now a specialist doctor is being locked in the police cell in Popondetta. A doctor whose contract expired and was not renewed at Popondetta Hospital is targeted by the Board to bring him as acting CEO, and this has not gone down well with the doctors and the staff at the hospital also. Whilst this is happening, doctors in Popondetta Hospital are in process ‘en masse leaving this hospital to other hospitals’ in the country.

“Nursing staff too will follow the doctors. The lives of staff of this hospital is paramount as it is very risky when mobs can intrude into the hospital.

“Tension is high on ground while the ones suffering most are the patients. Let us do it right for our patients.

“Popondetta Hospital – one of the best performing hospitals in the country – will go back to square one if nothing concrete is forthcoming.

“The National Doctors Association (NDA) will fully support any decision made by the local NDA Branch in Popondetta Hospital.

“Dr. Gunzee Gawin is a member of NDA. The Association will assist Dr. Gawin so that his defense is heard. He might take a leave but ‘the right cannot be taken as a wrong, and a wrong must not be taken as a right’. The truth must come to rest.”

(National Doctors Association president, Dr James Naipao)

Press release