THE Consumer Council of Fiji has labelled the delivery of a baby on a bench outside the Seaqaqa Health Centre last month as unacceptable.
And it has pleaded with the Health Ministry to establish an independent medical and dental council, claiming complaints from patients against medical officials continue to be a major issue.
Council CEO Premila Kumar said it was shocking to note that doctors and nurses residing within the centre's vicinity did not hear the woman and her aunt's calls for help.
"Where was the officer who was supposed to be on standby during emergency situations at the health centre?" she asked.
"The ministry must provide clear information to the public in relation to the operating hours of the centre so that the public know exactly what to do during emergencies.
"This is not the first time that consumers are raising grievances against health services. In the last six months, two cases relating to pregnancy have been discovered.
"One of them is a mother who was denied services at the Navua Hospital where she ended up losing her baby.
"In another case, the midwives in Suva forced a young mother to walk resulting in the newborn to fall to the floor. These are totally unacceptable behaviour of the hospital staff and this shows their attitude towards the kind of work they do."
Ms Kumar said the council believed this was an act of disobedience on the part of the health officials despite efforts being made to improve the health system.
In an Information Ministry statement, Health Minister Dr Neil Sharma apologised regarding the incident.
"The young woman was advised to present herself early at the Labasa Hospital after doctors noticed that she was in early stages of delivery," he clarified.
"Despite the advice given, the woman presented herself to the health centre instead of the hospital the day after.
"I want to point out to every Fijian that the advisories we issue are for one single purpose, to save lives.
"We recognise that there might be circumstances preventing her from travelling to Labasa Hospital but we reiterate that it's important that these advisories are taken seriously to avoid any complications."
It was earlier reported the woman was forced to deliver her baby with the help of her aunt on the bench at 3:30am on July 15.