Solomon Islands Minister for Health, the Hon. Clay Forau, opened the newly refurbished Accident and Emergency Department (A&E) during a ceremony on Friday 7th May at the National Referral Hospital (NRH).

Minister Forau commented, "He was particularly happy that Solomon Islands doctors, nurses and hospital staff were directly involved in the design process and were responsible for the refurbishment concept".

He said "Their direct involvement has lead to functional improvements being made that not only enhance the working environment for staff in the A&E ward, but most importantly will provide better patient care for Solomon Islanders".

The completion of this refurbishment was made possible with funding from the Australian Government Aid Program.

Juliette Brassington, Counsellor (Development Cooperation), Australian High Commission, said that Australia was delighted to join the NRH and the Ministry of Health and Medical Services to open the new ward.

"The NRH plays a vital role in the lives of all Solomon Islanders. The new A&E Ward means the hospital will be able to ensure that all patients requiring its services are offered quality care in a healthy environment," Ms Brassington said at the opening ceremony.

The construction of the new ward was completed by Tatalani Construction Ltd, which was awarded the contract following a tender process in late 2008.

Ms Brassington said the completion of this project demonstrated the benefits of Australia's support to build the capacity of the Infrastructure Unit of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services to manage projects of this scale and significance.

The Head of the A&E Department, Dr Kenton Sade said "The layout and design of the refurbished ward was developed in close consultation with the staff of the A&E Department. The layout was designed to control patient flow through the department and ensure that everyone who is present with an illness or injury is seen by a doctor when he or she arrives."

Dr Sade advised the public that outpatients will be handled by the Specialist Outpatients section of the NRH Referral Clinic and the new A&E ward would no longer handle general outpatient services. He said "This means that we will attend to patients according to the principles of triage where we attend to the very ill or severely injured first. The 'First Come, First Served' approach will no longer be used."

The Minister closed the ceremony by thanking the Australian Government for funding the refurbishment. He noted "This is a significant milestone in the Government's efforts to improve clinical services and I thank all those who have made it possible to open this new ward today".

Source: Press Release, Australian High Commission, Solomon Islands