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Doctors: Work to rule still in force

Accra, May 19, Ghanadot/GNA – Patients on Tuesday rushed to the Central Out Patients Department (OPD) of the Korle bu Teaching Hospital to access health care before the doctors stop work at 1700 hours deadline they have given themselves during their work-to-rule action.

Some patients who spoke to the Ghana News Agency in Accra said they reported as early as 0500 hours to access healthcare before the 1700 hours deadline.

Madam Aba Windful, a patient, said the situation was worrying and asked government to meet the doctors’ demands to save lives adding that the work to rule was a strike in disguise.

“I’m lucky to be here for a check-up and I know I will leave here before 1700 hours but what about the emergency cases that come in after that critical 1700 hours deadline?” she asked.

Sources at the Maternity Department confirmed that some doctors closed at 1700 hours on Monday while a few of them stayed on.

The sources said cases that could be handled by nurses would be taken care of while the critical ones would be referred to the Police and 37 Military Hospitals.

Abena Atta, a pregnant woman, told the GNA that she heard of the doctors’ action on radio and she was very uncomfortable with the situation because she was almost due to give birth and wondered what would happen to her should she go into labour at dawn. She called on the government to act quickly and save lives.

Korle bu Hospital Public Relations Officer, Mr Mustapha Salifu, confirmed that critical cases would be referred to 37 Military Hospital and Police Hospital and noted that management was waiting to see what happened to the afternoon clinics which were held on Thursdays.

He assured the public that a contingency plan instituted by management would help to manage the problem.

General Secretary of Ghana Medical Association (GMA), Dr Frank Serebuor, has confirmed that the work-to-rule action was still in force even though a few doctors were still working.

He said the contributions of doctors in the teaching hospitals were so enormous that the work of the few would be insignificant.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Tuesday, he said no doctor was happy about the current situation in the hospitals but stressed that what was due them should be given them accordingly.

Dr Serebuor said 37 military Hospital and the Police Hospital were not targeted because of their peculiar situation.

He said information reaching him from the regions confirmed that their action was still in force citing Komfo Anokye Hospital and the Effia Nkwanta Hospital.

The National Labour Commission on Monday reminded the GMA that its action to "work-to-rule" amounted to a strike that had been embarked upon without recourse to the dispute resolution procedures provided for in the Labour Act.

The statement further reminded the GMA that its members provided health and hospital services which according to regulation 20(c) of LI 1833 were essential services and were therefore prohibited from resorting to a strike as any such strike could result in loss of life and pose danger to public health and safety.

Dr Serebuor expressed surprise at the statement of the NLC saying that when they asked the Commission to bring government to the negotiation table they were quick to say that it had been dissolved and needed to be reconstituted but when they threatened to work to rule the “non-existent” NLC resurrected to question their action.

Meanwhile, a between Deputy Health Minister, Dr Benjamin Kumbuor and the leadership of the GMA has been scheduled for 1400 hours on Tuesday to find an amicable solution to the problem.

The GMA over the weekend said the position of the National Executive Council affected all doctors nationwide and not just junior doctors, noting "we fully support the adoption of measures to bring some closure to these thorny issues".

The statement noted that since 2006, salaries of doctors had not been reviewed despite several attempts to get the issues resolved.

It explained that negotiations had stalled since the last meeting held on May 12, 2009 without any consensus on either the salary review or the conditions of service.







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