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30.05.2006 Health

Korle-Bu junior doctors defy call to stay on duty


Accra, May 29, GNA - Striking junior doctors at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital on Monday continued with their strike action despite an earlier call by the executives of Ghana Medical Association (GMA) restraining any doctor from such action until June 9.

Dr Mohammed Abdullah, Spokesperson for the junior doctors told the press at the hospital premises that, "we are on strike until arrears of our salaries under the new salary structure are paid to us in one tranche by next week".

He told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) during a visit to the hospital to assess the effect of the strike action that the national executive council of the GMA refused to step-in when they earlier threatened to embark on the strike even-though "we first contacted them". He said their colleagues at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi joined the action on Sunday while others in the Eastern Region were about to join soon.

Dr Abdullah explained that ever since the Additional Duty Hour Allowance (ADHA) was phased out from the beginning of the year and replaced with the new salary structure, no doctor had been paid with the new salary.

"This has created a lot of difficulty for us as doctors for the past five months because after monthly deductions of various items from our salaries we are left with nothing or only about 300,000 cedis to take home".

During the visit, many patients who did not know about the strike were found seated at the various outpatient departments of the hospital apparently hoping to be attended to.

Most of them said they arrived at the hospital as early as 0500 hours and were still waiting for their turn to see their doctors. However, as at 1000 hours most of the patients had not been seen to and some after learning about the strike were leaving. Sources at the hospital said most of the patients would not be attended to because most of the doctors supposed to see them were junior doctors who were all on strike.

Meanwhile, a statement signed by Mr Mustapha Salifu, Public Relations Officer of the Hospital has confirmed the strike action involving mainly the junior doctors to press home their demand for improved salaries. "The hospital is therefore no longer in the position to offer normal services to the general public as the junior doctors have limited their services to in-patients only. Outpatients are hereby advised to seek medical care in other facilities in the metropolis", the statement noted.

Management of the hospital has however, directed heads of the various departments to draw up duty rosters for senior doctors to attend to out-patients who had reported to the hospital on Monday. This was the outcome of a meeting held earlier which also decided that a programme be drawn up for other doctors to see in-patients while plans were being put in place to enlist the support of the GMA to resolve the problem. The statement indicated that the management had however, forwarded the concerns of the junior doctors to the Ministry of Health to find a solution to the problem.

The statement also assured that other health professionals were on duty and were trying to cope with the situation.