Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Mental Health Authority, has directed all procurement queries on the intended 220-bed new Accra Psychiatric Hospital to the Minister of Health, Kweku Agyeman Manu, since he and his outfit was not involved in that matter.
Dr Akwasi Osei, revealed that he had only been party to a new design of the hospital by a Ghanaian company called “Sutherland and Sutherland” and made suggestions to that effect, but cannot speak to the ongoing procurement issues which according to the Health Minister, has gotten to the stage of tender evaluation, failing to mention when the tender process was advertised in the dailies as required by the Public Procurement Laws.
Dr Akwasi Osei’s advice, comes as issues surrounding the Accra Psychiatric Hospital are getting murkier with revelations that the Akufo-Addo government, had considered closing down the hospital entirely and pulling down its existing infrastructure, but was advised against it.
The hospital currently sits on a 12-acre land housing a 600-bed capacity hospital, but is thought to be inadequate for a new facility.
Dr Akwasi Osei, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Mental Health Authority and immediate past Medical Director of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, disclosed that instead of shutting down the hospital, the government rather advised that it put up a 220-bed hospital; an idea it bought into by agreeing to redevelop the hospital under Agenda 111.
Ghana’s Chief Psychiatrist, said this in a banter with The Herald’s managing editor on Accra FM yesterday.
He was reacting to reports from the staff of the nation’s premier mental hospital that they had been told to pack out by June, this year as an investor, had bought the hospital and soon to take over the place.
Dr Akwasi Osei, who denied that the hospital had been bought, explained that the government was reducing the number of beds at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital from 600 to 220 beds, because it hopes to put Psychiatric treatment facilities at the various regional hospitals across the country.
He confirmed the June deadline given to the health workers at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital as reported by The Herald.
Mental Health Authority boss, revealed that he and others at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, had made inputs into the design of the 220-bed hospital to be constructed by the Akufo-Addo government.
Dr Akwasi Osei could, however, not say whether the design was going to occupy the 12-acre land belonging to the health facility or part of it was going to be used for something else or sold to private investors as the workers had said.
He was also unaware of who the contractor was, but was sure that work was going to start in June, a deadline the Minister of Health had again failed to provide in response to The Herald’s publication.
The Minister of Health, had on Monday, responded to The Herald newspaper’s publication of the day denying that the Accra Psychiatric Hospital has been sold to private investors but left behind many unanswered questions especially on Public Procurements procedure and its laws.
In what some say seemed like an afterthought to douse the uncertainty that has engulfed management and staff of the hospital following a durbar where they were told to start packing out because some investors were taking over the land by June, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, said the claim was baseless.
According to the Health Minister, Ghana’s premier mental health facility “hasn’t been sold”.
“It is to be redeveloped under Agenda 111 into a new modern 220 bed Psychiatric Hospital under an EPC Contract”, Agyemang-Manu said in a statement on his Facebook page, last Monday, March 14, 2022.
He claimed that “Tenders have been received and are being evaluated currently. Afterwards, it will go for VFM, Cabinet and loan will go for Parliamentary approval”.
Mr Agyemang Manu, confirmed discussions on the relocation of the nurses, doctors and other health professionals of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, saying the “staff might be relocated to Pantang to make way for redevelopment”.
The Health Minister’s statement added that “the authorities will ensure that until and unless all steps towards getting the contractor on site are completed and contractor is ready to commence work, there will be no relocation.”
He, however, didn’t provide timelines for the project, although The Herald reported on Monday that nurses and other health workers at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital were given June this year, to pack out of the mental health facility for the investors who had been linked to the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta to take over.
Though welcoming of the new development, some Hospital staff have questioned why they were told to leave the facility by June, if contractual arrangements hadn’t been completed.
The staff, have also asked issues of the medium of publication the Health Ministry used in inviting tenders for the reported contract to redevelop the Accra Psychiatric Hospital as required by the Public Procurement Laws of the country.
Nurses, doctors and other health personnel, said they weren’t aware of any publication to that effect and weren’t informed of any at their recent meeting.
Rather they were told that investors had taken over the state property and asked to be ready to leave by June without knowing where.
Others questioned why they weren’t informed of the Agenda 111 project, but were rather asked to check out of the facility by June, this year without being informed of the plans the Minister outlined in his Facebook post.
“Why we weren’t told that to appreciate the reasons behind the relocation, but rather asked to pack out”, they queried.
Some suggested that the absence of candid and transparent engagement explains the instructions by management that staff should get ready to relocate without knowing where they were heading to.
The Minister’s claim, has also brought into question the nature of interaction between the management of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital and that of the Pantang Psychiatric Hospital on the intended relocation of patients and staff to run a joint operation on mental health in and around the Greater Accra Region.
Other independent observers, have also said that the Akufo-Addo’s government’s Agenda 111, had mentioned that the government was going to construct fresh hospitals across the country, and didn’t say that existing hospitals were going to be “redeveloped”.
Some have also questioned “whether money for agenda 111 has not been allocated already?
Why the parliamentary approval again for a loan? Will all other agenda 111 projects go through this phase?
Below is what Minister posted:
“ACCRA PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL NOT SOLD
The story making rounds that the Accra Psychiatric Hospital has been sold is not TRUE.
It hasn’t been sold. It is to be redeveloped under Agenda 111 into a new modern 220 bed Psychiatric Hospital under an EPC Contract.
Tenders have been received and are being evaluated currently. Afterwards, it will go for VFM, Cabinet and loan will go for Parliamentary approval.
Staff might be relocated to Pantang to make way for redevelopment, but the authorities will ensure that until and unless all steps towards getting the contractor on site are completed and contractor is ready to commence work, there will be no relocation.”