Over Illegal Strike Action
Impeccable sources from the corridors of power, have hinted The Herald that, the government has started a secret head count at various health facilities to determine which medical doctors are at post, ahead of the release of pay vouchers.
The Herald is informed that, government is of the strongest view that, the strike action declared by a selected members of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), was illegal and such, those not working must not receive their salaries ,starting from the month of August.
The government officials, including the Minister of Health, Alexander Segbefia, National Peace Council, National Labour Commission, the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission’s George Smith Graham, labour expert, Austin Gamey, Lt. General Joseph Nunoo-Mensah, Prof. Edmond Delle among other opinion
leaders, such as chiefs, have all appealed to the medical doctors to return to ward, while negotiations continue, but to no avail.
The Herald is informed that, government started weighing the option of blocking the salaries of the errant medical doctors ahead of the recent decision by the Holy Family Hospital in Techiman to sack fourteen doctors for making themselves unavailable for training and service as an expression of solidarity for the striking doctors.
Government is said to have been inspired by the action of the the National Catholic Health Service to withdraw the services, salaries and benefit of the junior doctors, who had joined the GMA to embark on the strike action, while their senior colleagues in the same hospital, were busily saving lives.
The Catholic Health Service in a letter stated that, the decision was taken after, “the officers served notice to them of their unavailability for training and service as an expression of their solidarity with the current impasse between GMA and Government.”
“In line with our convention, inspired by Christian values, ethics and identity, we are obliged and restraint from embarking upon strike action to resolve matters of such nature. Their decision further contravenes the policy guidelines for House Officers training as circulated to us by your office. Consequently, management finds the actions of the House Officers as a breach of these principles and thus undesirable in our system”.
The dismissed doctors include junior and senior house officers of the facility. The Catholic Health Service, added that the “actions of the junior doctors made it impossible for us to avail our facility to this particular group of Officers for training. In keeping to our commitment to you, we wish to state that we will be willing to consider any other person or group of person that you may post to us for training.”
The dismissed doctors included; Dr. Mensah Ekow Michael, Dr. Kingsley Afreh Aduroh, Dr. Papa Kojo Mbroh, Dr. Tabi Prince Kwabena, Dr. Ama Nkansa Sarkodie, Dr. Daniel Assaki Ndago, Dr. Evangeline Bediako, Dr. Derick Prince Aryeh, Dr. Apenteng Lawrence Oduro, Dr. Josepth Ameyaw, Boateng Ben Osafo, Dr. Naizer Hussein, Dr. Emmanuel Acquah and Dr. Ekow Adom Mensah
Meanwhile, reports are that, the 183 network of health facilities that make up the Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG) are struggling to deal with increased patient numbers as the strike by doctors at public hospitals, enters week two.
Executive Director of CHAG, Peter Kwame Yeboah, revealed this Monday on ‘Burning Issues’, aired on Adom FM. “Already there was pressure on us before the Ghana Medical Association strike and currently the situation is getting worse day in day out” Peter Yeboah stated.
CHAG is owned by 21 different Christian church denominations.
The Minister of Health, Mr Alex Segbefia, has appealed to retired doctors to contact the GHS to make arrangements for them to offer their services.
He said this, when he visited the Ridge, the La and the LEKMA hospitals in Accra yesterday, and reiterated the need for the striking doctors to call off their illegal strike while negotiations continued.
He said, it was crucial for the doctors to return to work, since “a life lost is a life too many”.
The minister’s call on the doctors came as the countdown to the proposed mass resignation of doctors on Friday, August 14, 2015, begins.
Mr Segbefia said, once the issue was on the table, it was important for the doctors “to come to work” while negotiations between the GMA and the government continued.
He said the strike was illegal, since it was against the rules of engagement outlined by the Labour Law.
“One of the tenets of the rule of law is adherence to the rules,” he said.
At the Greater Accra Regional Hospital at Ridge, all the doctors were working on humanitarian basis, in spite of the strike declared by the GMA.
The Medical Director of the hospital, Dr Emmanuel Apori Obeng, said the hospital was currently attending to patients because doctors had the mission to save lives.
However, at the La General and the LEKMA hospitals, there were no outpatients, with only a few doctors attending to in-patients.
Although the number of doctors at both hospitals had dwindled, no fatalities had been recorded as of yesterday.
At the La General Hospital, the acting Medical Director, Dr Nihad Salifu, told the media that, the hospital was only attending to expectant mothers, children, as well as in-patients who had serious health issues.
She indicated that, it had attended to 10 cases as of midday but would have attended to 60 cases on a normal day.
Meanwhile, at the LEKMA Hospital, patients who had been admitted before the strike were receiving medical attention, whereas other departments of the hospital, had been deserted.
A nurse at the hospital, Ms. Grace Gyimah, told the media that, the hospital attended to 52 cases in the morning, compared with the normal daily attendance of about 350 cases in a day.
She appealed to the government to hasten the negotiation process to enable doctors to call off the strike, since the workload hung on the necks of nurses.