Nurses in the Eastern Region have threatened to embark on a massive demonstration this Friday, if the government fails to grant their 170 hours additional duty hour allowance (ADHA) due them.
The nurses have again threatened to withdraw their services entirely by October 4 if "nothing favourable" is heard from the sector ministry and the government.
The nurses took this decision at an emergency regional council meeting held at Koforidua on Monday, which brought together representatives from all health centres in the region.
In a six point resolution arrived at after six hours of deliberations, the nurses demanded that until their 170 hours allowances due them are paid, they are not prepared to resume normal duties.
However, emergency cases would be attended to. They further held that the communiqué issued by the sector minister and the president of the Ghana Registered Nurses Association (GRNA) is not a memorandum of understanding (MoU) reached by all parties involved thus putting into question, its authenticity.
"We are looking forward to receive a time bound MoU specifically stating the number of hours granted to us as we expect and duly signed by all parties involved in the negotiation", they stated.
They also demanded that the 10% tax on the ADHA at the facility level should be done away with and the current allocation of ¢2.7 billion ADHA allocated to the region be increased to ¢9 billion while threatening to boycott the forthcoming immunization day celebrations, among others.
The Deputy Director of Nursing Services (DDNS) Madam Margaret Appiah Tuffuor told Chronicle that the nurses took the decision to embark on the strike action because their ADHA allocation is the lowest in the country and that previous appeals to correct the situation has not yielded any result.
"No one is interested in going on strike since we are all vulnerable to sickness but we are saying that our nurses should be listened to. They have been aggrieved for too long", she said.
Nurses in the region are receiving between 38 and 67 hours ADHA with the exception of Nkawkaw Holy Family hospital who receive 80 hours allowance.
At the Kade Government Hospital, for instance, nurses are being paid 65hrs ADHA, those in Akuse are receiving between 38 and 62hrs whiles nurses in Tafo are being paid 52hrs.
Mampong nurses receive 63 hrs pay, New Juaben Municipality, 67 hrs and Atibie government hospital gets 57hrs allowance while Kyebi gets between 52 and 55 hours pay, The Chronicle learnt.
The regional chairman of the GRNA Madam Mary Acheampong appealed to the government to be sensitive to the plight of the nurses since it is not their wish to stay out of work.
"Our national secretariat says we should go back to work but our people here are saying that until there is an MoU, until we hear something tangible and not something verbal or on radio, we are prepared to go back to work even today," she told The Chronicle in an interview.
Earlier at the meeting, appeals made to the nurses to attend to emergency cases were met with strong opposition amidst shouts like, "No, no, no, we are still on strike. We are not going to work."
They expressed concerns that when they attend to emergency cases, they would end up performing normal duties and their strike action would therefore not be effective.
At one stage during the meeting, some of the nurses walk out in protest against suggestions by their leadership that a skeletal staff be put in place to take care of emergency cases.
They however returned to the meeting hall for the resolution to be passed.
A visit to the regional hospital by Chronicle at around 10.00 a.m. found the place relatively quiet with no nurses around but there was a lot of patients waiting to be attended to.
No nurse was found at the casualty ward either. Emergency cases, The Chronicle learnt, were being referred to private clinics in the region as well as the 37 Military and Police hospitals in Accra.