THE Ministry of Health yesterday suspended 549 workers.
Minister of Health Dr Neil Sharma confirmed this to The Fiji Times, saying the workers had failed to meet the deadline to return their "position descriptions" to headquarters, despite a regular reminder for six months.
The position description defines the role of an individual health worker, to whom they report to and the minimum qualification needed for individual posts.
Dr Sharma said health workers who failed to provide a position description would not receive their next fortnightly pay.
He said the 549 workers were from all the departments within the ministry in all divisions.
"If these workers have no position description at their job site, they need to reconsider their role in the Ministry of Health and the civil service," Dr Sharma said.
He said "a sizeable number may need to consider their positions or face redundancy".
"There is a great need for efficiency in health care by our teams," Dr Sharma said. "It appears that we can reduce size and work productively in future."
Ministry spokesman Peni Namotu said workers who had been identified were from the national and sub-division level.
He said the ministry had indicated that all workers needed to have an individual position description and an individual work plan.
Likewise, he said, the annual confidential reports should have been returned to the ministry headquarters by March 31.
This, he said, was required annually.
Mr Namotu said workers who had failed to fill their annual confidential report on time were incompetent.
He said the report measured the workers' individual performance and this was used as a criterion for promotions.
"This is the first disciplinary action. The next step will cost them their job," Mr Namotu said.
He said all health workers should understand the importance of adhering to the ministry's regulations.
When contacted last night, Fiji Nursing Association (FNA) general secretary Salanieta Matiavi said they had yet to receive official notification from the ministry.
She said the suspension of 549 workers would affect the services provided by nurses around the country.
"We have not been informed but this will greatly impact on their services, particularly nurses," Ms Matiavi said.
"We already have a shortage of nurses and doctors."
Ms Matiavi said they would prepare a response once the ministry notified the association.