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Doctors limit service to in-patients

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

There are mixed responses to calls by the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) on its members to begin a partial withdrawal of their services to protest against delays on the part of labour authorities to resolve issues on the migration of doctors onto the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS).

But the National Labour Commission (NLC) has directed the doctors to discontinue the action.

In spite of the intervention by the NLC, some doctors in some public hospitals withdrew part of their services, while others ignored the calls by the GMA to begin a partial withdrawal of their services.

When the Daily Graphic visited the La General Hospital Monday to find out the level of doctors’ response to the call by the GMA, the Matron in charge of the OPD, Ms Helen Acquah, said doctors were at post at the department.

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According to her, she was yet to be communicated to on the intended strike and, therefore, could not comment on it.

At the Gynaecological Department of the hospital, the Senior Nursing Officer, Ms Doris Amarteifio, said doctors were at post and attending to new patients.

As of 9:30 a.m. when the Daily Graphic got to the department,  three doctors were on duty attending to some pregnant women.

Ms Amarteifio said the doctors were even preparing some of the patients for surgery.

The Administrator of the hospital, Mr Adam M. Hardi, told the Daily Graphic that the hospital was yet to receive any formal notification from the GMA.

However, at the Ridge Hospital, the situation was different, as some doctors there said they were attending to only emergency cases.

The benches which were usually used by outpatients were virtually empty.

The Medical Director of the hospital, Dr Obeng Apori, who could neither confirm nor deny whether the doctors were at post or on strike said he had not received any formal communication from the GMA.

He said he was yet to be informed about any strike and, therefore, was at post and expected that doctors would also be at post.

He said the hospital administration would organise a formal meeting with the doctors to ascertain their stance on  the decision of the GMA to embark on a strike.

At the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, the various OPDs were full with people, especially at the Eye Clinic where the doctors were seen attending to patients.

From Kumasi, George Ernest Asare reported that members of the GMA carried out their threat of suspending out-patient medical care in health facilities in the Kumasi metropolis and its environs yesterday.

Patients seeking medical care at the Suntreso, Manhyia, Tafo  and Kumasi South hospitals, as well as the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH),  returned home unattended to following the strike by the GMA.

As of 10 a.m.  when the Daily Graphic visited the KATH Polyclinic,  which is the first  port of call for outpatients seeking medical care at the KATH, patients were reluctantly returning home after waiting for some time without any attempt by the doctors  to provide them with the requisite consultancy services.

Other patients still waited patiently, hoping that the striking doctors might eventually rescind their decision and attend to them.

At the KATH  Trauma and Orthopedic Consulting Room, about 60 patients who reported for medical care early on Monday had not been attended to as of10:30 a.m.

The situation was the same at the Suntreso Government Hospital where the President of the GMA, Dr Kwabena Opoku Adusei, provides consultancy services.

Doctors were, however, going round the various wards of the hospitals attending to patients  on admission.

Later in an interview, Dr Opoku Adusei  said the strike was nationwide and not limited to the Kumasi metropolis and its environs alone.

He said doctors would continue to carry out their action until their demands were met.

He,  however,  gave an assurance that they would continue to provide emergency services for patients who needed those services but warned that if their grievances remained unresolved between now and Sunday, they would withdraw all medical services, including emergency care and in-patient services, from Monday, February 18, 2013 until further notice.

Story by Rebecca Quaicoe and Duho and George Ernest Asare