MEDICAL specialists who comprise the majority of those who provide services at the Suva Private Hospital (SPH) are withholding their services in protest against their terms and conditions.
This was confirmed to The Fiji Times by lawyer Jone Bale, who is representing 13 medical specialists who have stopped practice at the Toorak-based hospital.
Mr Bale said the specialists withholding their services were in negotiations directly with the hospital management and hoped to resolve the issue soon.
"For the moment they are withholding their services in relation to the elective procedures," he said.
Mr Bale refused to release the details of the negotiations but said the general parameters of what the specialists were discussing were in relation to the new contracts being offered by the hospital.
"A lot of the specialists involved are not happy with some of the terms that the Suva Private Hospital is insisting that they should abide by so they are trying to negotiate those terms," he said.
The 13 specialists include surgeons, gynaecologists, anaesthetists and obstetricians.
The hospital, in a statement issued by general manager David Qumivutia, said it was not misleading the public and operations at the hospital were normal.
"At the hospital we have general practitioners employed by the hospital in the medical centres and specialists who operate as independent contractors. Suva Private Hospital is currently negotiating the terms and conditions of the independent contracts with some of the specialists," Mr Qumivutia said.
He said a majority of the specialists had already signed contracts and continued to provide services.
However, a letter signed by the 13 specialists to the Consumer Council of Fiji and sighted by this newspaper, stated that the hospital's claim it was operating as normal was incorrect and did not reflect its true state of affairs.
The letter stated that the withholding of the services would continue until the hospital agrees to meet the specialists to discuss possible ways of resolving their concerns amicably.
If this does not occur, they said they would have to consider other options, including severing ties with the hospital.
The specialists said they were concerned that the hospital was charging them extra fees. This, they said, was their main issue of contention.
"The issues in dispute relate to the hospitals unilateral decision to charge us, as independent medical specialists practitioners working under the hospital system, a facilities fee ranging from 20 per cent to 30 per cent of our professional fee, which has already been subject to reductions over the years," their letter stated.
The letter said the SPH's position was that all patients seen by the specialists were their personal patients.
"They claim that we are operating as individual independent contractors using the hospital administrative system and facilities to see our own patients," the letter said.
According to the letter, the specialist said if this was true, they would have simply adjusted their professional fees accordingly and they would not have a dispute in the first place.
Meanwhile, Consumer Council of Fiji chief executive Premila Kumar said the council was urging SPH to "stop misleading members of the public by stating its services are operating as normal when in fact it's the opposite".
The council is demanding answers from SPH on why it put out public notices saying that they were operating as normal.