Ghanaian Doctor writes: Behind every bloated ego lies...!

I still remember the scene to its minutest details, we were 18 doctors desperately positioning ourselves precariously in order to fit into the office of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.


This was the fourth time we had visited this office to meet the Management Committee of the hospital. No! it was not on a different issue! All previous three visits, months apart, had been on the same issue.

The expression, "We are working on it and hopefully by the end of this month, it will happen", had been drummed into our ears so much so that I could hear it reverberate in my dreams.

Time and again, it failed to happen.

But its failure to happen was not as heart-thumping as the excuse adduced. "Can you believe that I, as the CEO, have not been mechanised since I took over so many months ago?" had been the almost predictable excuse used to justify why we should not complain.

After all, have we not been working for only nine months without salaries?

The stage was set for a showdown.

As I look back today, I realise, to my everlasting shame, how blessed we were back then! We were receiving Additional Duty Hours Allowance (ADHA) every month, the hospital had extended to us a salary advance facility where people who really needed money could access up to the value of half their salaries from the hospital's internally generated funds.

Getting on the payroll

These notwithstanding, we were desperate to get our names on the payroll because that was the acceptable evidence of employment.

The ADHA, paid monthly, was higher than our basic salary but it could not serve as a guarantee for loans because it was still seen as an allowance.

With determination not to leave the office of the CEO until we were mechanised, the CEO had no option but to summon the man tasked to work on our salaries.

It turned out, to our chagrin, that our documents were still sitting in an office in Korle Bu nine months into our employment. If you think that was absurd, then listen to the excuse as to why they had not been sent.

I still remember the look he wore as he blurted out, "There was lack of A4 sheets, so cover letters could not be written!" No A4 sheets for nine months!!

So embarrassed was the CEO and his management team that the hospital gave us a bus to cart us to the Ministry of Health.

We left the ministry after 8 p.m. after we had satisfied ourselves that all our details had been entered onto the payroll. And that month we got mechanised!

Problem persists

Thirteen years down the line, we still have doctors working for 11 months without salaries.

But one doesn't need to delve deeper to know that there is something wrong here, just follow the utterances of people appointed to manage state institutions and you cannot help but bow your head in shame!

I write this piece very disturbed and angry at the same time.

No! I'm not angry at the police who brought armoured cars and pepper spray to disperse 35 law abiding junior doctors who were only demanding what is rightfully theirs. Who can beat the Ghanaian police to exerting all their energies on flippant feats particularly bordering on foppery?

I will not waste my emotions on the various people who promised them but failed to deliver, those who told untruths, half truths and artfully contrived lies just to discredit these hardworking doctors.

For the Finance Minister's assurances to have fallen on deaf ears, attests to how low we have sunk as a nation as far as dealing with officialdom is concerned.

We need to emphasise that honesty is the best way of dealing with workers, especially those engaged in essential services.


Shabby treatment

However, I cannot hide my anger for the CEO of the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital, Dr Daniel Asare.

Three months ago, he had the audacity to write an annoying letter sacking houseofficers who dared to embark on a sit down strike to protest non-payment of salaries after nine months of working.

To him, because he was giving them a pittance of between GHc350 and GHC500 a month depending on whether one was accommodated or not, they had no business complaining!

He lost the opportunity to empathise with his own junior colleagues, especially so when he went through the same scenario 25 years ago. More importantly, he failed to grab the opportunity to make better what he went through 25 years ago.


What manner of men are we if we accept mediocrity as an excellent mark?

These are hardworking doctors who have toiled night and day to take care of the sick and infirm in society. Besides, their actions do generate revenue to the hospital.

They do tasks far below and beyond their scope of expertise but they diligently oblige without complaints. How could they be treated this way?

Even more absurd was his directive to the Ghana Medical and Dental Council (GMDC) to replace those Houseofficers, as if they were rancid margarine needing replacement on a shelf. If houseofficers are so insignificant to his institution as he claims, I would have imagined that he would not ask for replacement from the GMDC!


"These are student doctors who are not even employees of the Ministry of Health but have been sent to me by the GMDC to train and sign their log book off," he berated on a radio station. Is he really serious? Residents who are post-graduate doctors undergoing specialisation are also required by the various training colleges to sign their log books, I guess they are also not doctors, going by his logic!

Human resource as important ingredient

Houseofficers are doctors who have completed medical school, they have a provisional registration with the GMDC, they are senior employees in the hierarchy of the health ministry, even though they are the lowest on the medical scale.

They have sworn the same oath as the senior doctors, as a matter of fact, they are our colleagues irrespective of the number of years we have worked.

Their appointment letters are given by the Ministry of Health through the GMDC.

They are placed on the single spine pay scale drawing salaries and allowances so how could a doctor who has gone through housemanship training himself spew out such falsehood?

What did he seek to do by recounting that he got his pay after 10 months in 1990 when he did his housejob?

Was he in anyway justifying that over 25 years down the line, things should worsen? How on earth did he become a CEO of a teaching hospital when he does not know these simple facts in a sector that he occupies a higher position?

Dr Asare has done Cape Coast Teaching Hospital a huge disservice, he has told the whole world that he believes not in the most important ingredient to run the hospital - the human resource.

To him, he does you a favour when you work in the institution he heads even though without you he cannot generate income to pay his huge allowances as CEO, which I believe are up-to-date by way of payments.

Mario Puzo once wrote that behind every great wealth lies a crime, I am struggling to fathom what belies his obviously over-bloated ego? Is it lack of empathy, mischief, ignorance or incompetence?

The jury, I believe, is out.

Email: [email protected]
Immediate Past Chairman of Greater Accra Division of Ghana Medical Association.

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