FIJIAN doctors carry a higher workload and are susceptible to lapses in judgment when it comes to empathy and sensitivity on the job, says Health Minister Dr Neil Sharma.
While complaints against nurses and doctors are unfortunate regular occurrences, he said extreme pressures on the job needed to be considered.
"I think we are all working towards improving the attitudes of doctors and nurses," Dr Sharma said.
"But you must realise the doctors and nurses are carrying one and a half times the normal load and you know constantly people get worn out and tired.
"And emotions can take a hold of them but all the same, we are working on improving their empathy and compassion and their ability to communicate."
He added language barriers and miscommunication between patients and doctors also had to be taken into account.
Dr Sharma made his comments after Prime Minister Rear Admiral (Ret) Voreqe Bainimarama called for improvement from Fijian doctors and nurses on Wednesday while opening the new Navua Hospital.
"We need better levels of compassion, empathy and sensitivity shown by our caregivers and I can assure the Fijian people that this is one of my government's top priorities," Rear Admiral (Ret) Bainimarama said.
"Whenever a patient visits a hospital or clinic, they should feel like the doctors and nurses are fully vested in their health and recovery. Nothing less is acceptable."
Lasaro Dau, a villager of Navunikabi in Namosi, was present at the opening of the new hospital and said the attitudes of doctors and nurses in the old hospital left much to be desired.
"Na valenibula makawa, keimami curu ga i loma vata kei ira na marama nasi ra veiqaravi tu kina, e kauta saraga vei keda me sa kauti keimami ga vaka taki kemami i na mortuary, na draki ni veiqaravi ra bula tu kina. (The level of care given by nurses at the old hospital made us feel like we should just take ourselves straight to the mortuary instead of seeking treatment)," Mr Dau said.
He said the nurses were known in the villages as panadol nurses because of their habit of recommending panadol for all cases.