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19.03.2009 Business & Finance

GMA fumes over Single Spine Salary Structure

By Kingdom Sosu - Ghanaian Chronicle

The President of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) Dr. Emmanuel Adom Winful has called on the government to as a matter of urgency review the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) in the health sector in consultation with all stakeholders before proceeding with any attempts to implement it.

He also asked all labor unions to endeavor to discuss all the thorny issues concerning the SSSS as it affects them before the final implementation.

Dr. Adom Winful was reacting at a press conference to some publications in the electronic and print media indicating that junior doctors intend to embark on a strike action has wrongly being interpreted.

“Let me state categorically that at no point in the letters submitted to the National Executives Committee of the GMA did the Junior Doctors of Korle Bu or Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospitals threaten strike action” he said.

According to him, what they did was to forward critical concerns about the issues of the single spine salary structure to the National Executives, a matter which without mincing words is of great concern to doctors of all categories.

Speaking on the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS), Dr. Adom Winful noted that the policy which was introduced by the previous government was aimed at streamlining salary administration in all public sector was a laudable idea.

The policy, which is set to begin operation in January this year, lacks other pertinent matters pertaining to the salaries of doctors and other health workers that have not been reviewed for the past three years with implications for improving the health sector.

The President of GMA admitted that although the association was involved in some of the processes for the review as drawn up by the previous government, he denied the associations involvement in any meeting whatsoever, that discussed anything resembling, even remotely, placements on the SSSS as contained in the drafted document sighted by GMA.

“Even more irregular was the premature announcement by the previous government of 16-35% salary increment aimed at kick-starting a so called single spine salary structure, discussions on which were inconclusive,” he said.

He questioned at what point doctors and other health workers fit into the SSSS, which categories of health workers had been involved in the final draft document as proposed by the Consultant?

He continued, what is the length of training and qualifications required for specific jobs, what are the requirements for progression and how did the government consultants assess job responsibilities and risk?

The President questioned what became of the government appointed Consultant who only two years ago had occasion to fuse scales1 and 2 of the Health Sector Salary Structure in an attempt to bridge a so-called gap, leaving health workers with further distortions that reignite what some referred to as tribal wars on the health front?

Dr. Adom Winfil pointed out that the position of GMA and its expectation on whatever salary structure is proposed by government to be thoroughly negotiated, not just with the association but with all other trade unions.

He said, observing complete distortion of our relativities in the health sector, to the extent that professionals at certain levels of the Ghana Universal Salary Structure, which was later known as Health Sector Salary Structure now find themselves ranked below those that they were previously senior to.

According to him, the Consultant who drafted the SSSS policy have shown lack of understanding of basic hierarchies in the health system and in the event that previous government's did, and in the light of current government's desire to proceed with implementation, the association have no choice than publicly state their reservations to the final draft.

Furthermore, the GMA president pointed out that SSSS seems to reward longevity in service rather than spur health professionals on to constantly improve their practice through skills acquisition and constant professional upgrading.

“The point is that if a Medical Officer cannot call himself a Specialist (irrespective of whatever procedures he/she is capable of) after twenty years of medical practice, it beats our mind why any other category of health professional can aspire to the position of Specialist by dint of having marked time at the same place for over twenty years,” he asked?