When ASPEN Medical take over operations at the Lautoka Hospital, it will provide 24/7 open heart surgeries for Fijians, revealed the acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum made the revelation during a question and answer session with students at the FNU College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Science in Suva yesterday.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said an area the Government was looking to invest in was postgraduate studies for doctors.

“We do have a lack of specialists in Fiji, we need more ENT specialists, more training, more exposure overseas and that’s what we are focused on,” he said.

“As you know the ASPEN Medical which has won the tender of the Lautoka and Ba Hospitals, God willing in a few months’ time ASPEN will take over the Lautoka Hospital.

“One of the conditions for the Lautoka Hospital, when they start running it, is that they want 24/7 open heart surgery for all Fijians. Now there is no one in Fiji that can do that, so everybody goes to India, and if you can afford you go to Australia or New Zealand.”

He said there would be a new wing in the Lautoka Hospital where there would be an operating theatre available.

“It will be made in such a way that the young doctors can observe and learn because in a few years’ time we need Fijian Doctors to be carrying that out.

“The only way we can get the exposure to that is that we start the surgeries now, people who are experts in it do the surgeries now and we have our doctors budding up with them and learning from them.”

He said the idea was for the long term.

“So, if they open in April or May once they start doing that, no Fijians should be going overseas,” the acting Prime Minister said.

“Of course, we will pay for those in the low income bracket; someone who is very wealthy can pay for theirs.

“Once you have that kind of hospital in a place like Lautoka which is very close to Nadi Airport, it would also make it easier for other Pacific islanders to make use of those services. In a way you are creating medical tourism.”