Minister of Health, Ms Sherry Ayettey on Monday met stakeholders in healthcare delivery to find contingency measures to address the burden put on patients as a result of the strike action by doctors and pharmacists.
She tasked all heads of the Directorate in all health institutions to ensure that various units in the hospitals had emergency services available to all clients including maternity.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in Accra, Mr Anthony Goodman, Public Relations Officer of the Ministry, said the Ministry was not happy with turn of events and would do all it could to ensure that health services were rendered to patients who would need them.
He explained that the Ministry has provided additional medical consumables and medicines to the 37 Military and the Police Hospitals adding that “we are also seeking to put in place emergency plan to handle all cases, whilst we seek amicable solution to the current misunderstanding between the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, the Labour Commission, GHOSPA and GMA”.
At the meeting were regional directors, medical directors, Chief Executives of the Teaching hospitals, Director of Medical Services of the Police hospital and Ghana Armed Forces, Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, and the Chief Executive Officer of the FWSC.
Doctors in public hospitals nationwide, on Monday embarked on a strike action to press home their demand for salary arrears. The decision was reached at a National Executive Council meeting of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) held in Kumasi last Saturday.
They will only be attending to emergency cases and also attend to only those on admission, to mark the first phase of the strike action. Second phase of the strike, which would be a total withdrawal of services, would commence on April 15, if their demands are not fully met.
Coincidentally, members of the Ghana Medical Association and Government Hospital Pharmacists Association (GHOSPA) also withdrew their service on same day as medical doctors to demand the payment of their salary arrears and market premium as negotiated by the FWSC.
The Health Minister later in an interview with the GNA urged GMA to consider the lives of their clients and rescind their decision whilst negotiations were on going.
She explained that GMA that as providers of essential services, were enjoined by section 162 of the Labour Act to refer any problems they may have with the negotiation process to the Labour Commission if they were of the view that negotiation has broken down.
“It is our hope that they would cooperate with the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission and Labour Commission in resolving all issues relating to their remuneration.
While the Ministry commits itself to ensuring fair and adequate remuneration for all categories of health workers, it is the view of the Ministry that this can only be done through proper procedure and respect for law”, she said.
She urged the GMA and GHOPA members to rescind their decision and return to work while they continued negotiation with the FWSC or allowed the National Commission to arbitrate.