Government Must Criminalize Doctors Strike

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All over the world, medical workers – doctors, nurses and others in the healthcare delivery system are classified as essential service providers.

Such is the importance of their services that, when curfews are imposed, they are exempted. The reason is not far to seek; their services can mean life or death for any individual in need.

Doctors, over the years, have held this country to ransom with their ridiculous demands, in blatant disregard to their Hippocratic Oath.

Only last week, senior doctors, withdrew their services, when negotiations for improve condition of service was still ongoing.

Every worker in Ghana deserve better pay for services they render, but that must be done within acceptable limit and within the limit that the budget can afford.

Government, has so many competing projects worthy of consideration, doctors, will also want to drive on good roads, have uninterrupted supply of power, water, schools, equipping hospitals and clinics, where the doctors work etc, if all the money we have is used to pay them, how much will be left to provide the other basic needs of the Ghanaians.

It is in this context that, we want to suggest to the government and future governments, to initiate a legislation that will make industrial action by that category of workers a criminal act.

It is unfortunate that industrial action is abused in Ghana. Elsewhere, it is used as a last resort when other avenues of negotiation have failed, but here union
leaders use it as a first option and as a measure of their effectiveness.

Sadly, this is more common among this segment of workers who know that their services are essential. Strike, being used as a negotiating tool, has come to be deployed as an instrument of blackmail by a group of over-pampered workers, most of whom the government pays handsomely for their specialist training.

It is no secret even to the uninformed that the health workers can afford to stay that long out of work, because they have alternatives.

Most of them even own hospitals, clinics or are into private practice, even while in government service.

They divert not just patients, but also hospital resources to their private facilities.

During those strikes, patients are discharged and the poor ones who cannot afford the prohibitive fees charged by private clinics are left to their fate. Many of them suffer preventable deaths. For the rich ones, they can afford medical trips to America, Europe and parts of Asia.

In our opinion, the government must take necessary measures to call the bluff of these doctors. While the process of legislation is ongoing, the ‘no-work-no-pay’ policy should be enforced.

Doctors and other medical workers must remember at all times that their primary call is to treat the sick and save life; they must do nothing to the contrary.

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