A GROUP of concerned residents in Labasa has expressed disappointment over the decision made by the Nasea Health Centre, claiming the officials only provide health services to a limited number of patients.
The group claimed the centre in town only caters for 50 patients.
Naodamu resident Anasimeci Tawake said when she visited the centre early this week, she was told to go to the divisional hospital because they only catered for the first 50 patients arriving into the centre.
"Some other patients who were there before me also received the same explanation. The officials there told us that they were going to provide their services to 50 people only," Ms Tawake said.
"When we asked them of their reasons, they didn't give us a satisfactory answer. When the centre opened last year, we were informed that it (centre) would cater for the people within the town area and those travelling from afar.
"We were also informed that most people could save their bus fare to the divisional hospital because the centre was readily available and now, it has limited the number of patients to be seen there."
Another resident Tevita Tokalau said it was not good for the officials to turn the patients away because most of them might not have money for their fare to the divisional hospital.
"The centre didn't limit the number of patients when it first opened but now, it has changed," he said.
"I am just concerned about the elderly and those that are really sick, and if they arrive late at the centre, they will be turned away too. This shouldn't be the case and I request the authorities responsible to look into the matter."
Health Ministry spokesman Sunil Chandra downplayed the claims made by the residents, saying the centre uses a number system that controls patients as a form of uniformity.
"The system allows those who arrive early to be attended to first and those who come later will be seen thereafter," he said.
"On a normal working day, the number is not limited to 50 patients only, in fact it reaches up to 150 to 200 patients. When we are short, relieving doctors see not more than 90 patients in a day. The centre runs its SOPD only on Wednesdays for its registered cases.
"Currently, all the cases from all medical areas are being seen at the centre including SOPD cases which has put extra load on the facility. The sub-divisional medical officer Macuata and the medical officer of the centre provide cover from 9am to 12pm."