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28.05.2007 Health

Doctors beat war drums

By myjoyonline
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Medical practitioners in the country are beating the war drums again, this time over the implementation of a new pay structure.

The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) says it has sighted a document to that effect, adding that it "vows to resist, by every legitimate means, any attempt to implement it".

In a communique issued at the end of the association's third National Executive Council meeting in Accra on Sunday, the GMA said the document was titled, "Public Health Sector Pay Reform Restructured Payscale: Payscale 1 and Payscale 2 Combined" and claimed that the gov┬Černment intended to implement it to the disadvantage of doctors.

The communique was signed by the President of the GMA, Dr Francis Ababio, and the Assistant General Secretary, Dr Sodzi Sodzi-Tettey.

Dr Ababio later addressed the press, warning that the contents of the document would create turbu┬Člence on the health front if they were implemented.

"We want our employers to know that we are not taking the contents of the document lightly," he said, adding that the GMA had, over the years, ignored similar documents which were implemented.

Reacting to the warning, the Minister of Health, Major Courage Quashigah (retd), said the allegation by the GMA was unfounded.

According to the Health Minister, what was being done was to bridge the gap between the doctors and other health workers, adding that it had nothing to do with the salaries of doctors.

When he was asked whether that could not be to the disadvantage of doctors, he said, "Not at all!"

Major Quashigah pointed out that the GMA would save everybody a lot of time if it went public with the source of the said document.

A member of the Appellate Body set up by the Ministry of Health to review the salary structure of health workers, Dr Anthony Baah, also said he had not seen any such document.

He said there had been a series of meetings to find solutions to problems associated with the salaries of health workers but he was not aware that there had been any decision which would be to the disadvantage of doctors.

The Director of Human Resource of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Ken Sagoe, said he was aware that the Cabinet Sub-committee on Health had asked the Appellate Body to review the salary structure of health workers but said he was not aware of any such document from the body or any other source.

The Head of the Payroll Unit of the Controller and Accountant-General's Department, Mrs Elizabeth Osei, said her unit had not received any letter which negatively affected the salaries of doctors.

Asked what step the GMA would take if the document was implemented, Dr Ababio said it would use legitimate means by going to the National Labour Commission (NLC) for redress.

He noted that similar "so-called harmless" documents which adopted unilateral positions on issues bordering on salaries and conditions of service of doctors ended up as full-blown implemented policies.

He also indicated that the GMA was mindful of what he described as the "chronic peculiar challenges" facing house officers, especially at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, adding that the association had set up a sub-committee to comprehensively review the challenges facing house officers in the country.

"This will enable the GMA to make representation or recommendations to the management of the training hospitals and to the Medical and Dental Council (MDC) on ways of addressing the challenges of the house jobs," he stated.

Dr Ababio reiterated the appeal of the association to drivers and other road users to exercise the greatest caution and patience when using the roads, while calling on the police to rigidly enforce road traffic regulations.

According to him, the GMA was very concerned about the carnage on the roads.

He said activities marking [email protected] would be officially launched to coincide with the inauguration of the GMA Council of Past Presidents.

Credit: Daily Graphic