MOH urge striking doctors to go back to work
Accra, Aug. 18, GNA - Government on Tuesday said it will continue working around the clock to ensure that the lives of Ghanaians are not put in jeopardy and reiterated an appeal to striking Members of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) to resume work.
Mr Alex Segbefia, Minister of Health, briefing the media on the current situation on the strike by the GMA appealed to them to call off the industrial action to pave way for negotiation to continue.
The GMA last month called the strike demanding that government puts in place conditions of service for its members.
But Mr Segbefia reiterated that government cannot negotiate with the doctors' whiles they are on strike, and noted that, until the GMA resumes work, government was putting on hold the whole subject of getting them a codified condition of service.
The two parties have since failed to reach common grounds after they failed to agree on proposals and counter proposals relating to the conditions of service.
Cataloguing negotiation to date, the Health Minister said after a failed attempt to conclude the condition of service document in 2015, the MOH tasked a team to review it and ensure that it was finalized and implemented.
According to him, the team examined the 2006 and 2009 draft conditions of service under the guidance of three key documents, which are the Single Spine Pay Policy of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC).
The Human Resources Management Policy and Framework and Manual for Ghana Public Services, 2015 of the Public Services Commission and the Operational Human Resource for Health Policy document.
Within two days upon signing the finalized framework, the various Health sector unions including the GMA, the Ghana Registered Nurses Association and the Health Services Workers Union were asked to submit proposals of which the GMA was the first to submit to begin negotiations on June 29, 2015, he said.
On the legality of the strike, Mr Segbefia said government recognizes the right of workers to negotiate for better conditions of service and without prejudice considers the strike on the lives of Ghanaians as unacceptable.
He however noted that as much as the strike was illegal, government did not want to go into the legalities because a heavy handle approach could be misconstrued.
He noted that the priority of government was to ensure that lives are saved and how to get to solve the impasse.
He noted that the codified condition of service was not about the doctors only but the entire workers in the sector, and that, doctors could not be singled out.
To minimize the effect of the strike, the Ministry has directed heads of facilities to ensure that the facilities review the provision of full range of health service by Wednesday August 19.
It should also ensure that, all members of the GMA, who have not reported and assumed full duties be considered as been on strike and in clear breach of the Labour Act.
Head of facilities have also been requested to monitor and provide weekly update on health workers not at post to the Ministry.
'The one priority of government is to ensure that the people of Ghana are able to receive healthcare.
'The lives and welfare of the people of Ghana take centre stage, in terms of Governments priorities and will take whatever steps that are deemed necessary to ensure the welfare of Ghanaians,' Mr Segbefia stated.
In this regard, the Ministry of Health has not only presented assorted medical supplies, but also posted additional nurses and midwives to the Police and 37 Military Hospitals to assist their colleagues to provide adequate and proper healthcare.
To restore normalcy, all the Cuban doctors, who have completed their rotations and were programmed to leave for Cuba anytime soon would be retained whilst arrangement are made for the next batch of 177 doctors to come in to help.
Physicians and medical assistants were also being deployed wherever possible, under the supervision of doctors who are ready and willing to work.
Similar interventions were being rolled out in other health facilities and noted that, government sympathizes with family members who may have lost their relations as a direct result of the illegal strike.
The Health Minister said there have been some reports of threats and intimidation of Doctors who wish to work, which he said, was their right and that any such act was a criminal offence, which if verified will be met with the full rigors of the law.
The two weeks strike extension by doctors, which translates into continuous withdrawal of services from Out-Patient Departments (OPDs) and emergency services, would see in-patients number dwindling since no patients were being admitted.
On House Officers, the Minister explained that, according to the Health Professions Regulatory Bodies Act 857, 2013, a house officer means 'a practitioner who is doing housemanship.
Whiles Housemanship means a period of training in an approved hospital or in an institution by a practitioner who has completed basic medical or dental training in a recognized institution or University.
The implication of the strike would delay completion of their training for full registration as medical and dental practitioners and was therefore prudent that they remain at post whilst arrangements were made for their supervision and further placement.
He took the opportunity to thank all members of the GMA and other health workers, who have continued to work, the Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG), Quasi-Governmental Institutions and private clinics and hospitals who have provided services to Ghanaians during these challenging times.