Government has appealed to doctors to seriously take a second look at the impact of their strike actions, more especially on possible lives that would be lost, and rescind their decision.
Minister of Information and Media Relations, Mahama Ayariga who made the appeal on Joy News remarked that doctors would definitely be paid their arrears, but lives that would be lost in the course of their strike cannot be brought back.
In demand of their unpaid allowances for 2012, the Ghana Medical Association embarked on a strike action over the weekend. The doctors are however attending to emergency cases and other essential services.
But Vice President of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) Dr. Sodzi Sodzi-Tettey has warned they will withdraw all other services if the allowances are not paid within seven days.
Meanwhile, Mahama Ayariga has appealed to the doctors to call off their strike because the issues raised are being dealt with- that is how much and when the premium should be paid.
He assured the doctors that government is willing to comply with the directives of the National Labour Commission.
With respect to that, he said, government has approved the guideline for the determination of their market premium for 2013.
Nevertheless, the Minister stated that the doctors’ salaries and other entitlements for March have been paid.
But Mr Ayariga said the government has agreed to pay the allowances for 2012 in three different installments – May, July and September.
“When they withhold their services, we are talking about lives being endangered, and yet all these monies would be paid; it is not as if there is a dispute about whether or not it would be paid. It would be paid, but after it has been paid how about the lives that have been lost as a result of you withholding your services?
“We do appeal to the leaders to seriously reconsider these issues and not to carry the threat to its logical conclusion.”
Meanwhile, Joy News visits to some health facilities in some parts of the country indicate that the strike is having a toll on healthcare delivery.
At the Ridge Hospital in Accra for instance, patients who have queued for hours to see their doctors and have not been attended to say they are frustrated.
Principal nursing officer there, Alice Opoku told Joy News’ Beatrice Adu that the doctors would only attend to emergency cases, but would not communicate that to the patients at the OPD.
She explained: “I don’t want to announce to our patients [that the doctors are on strike], I will commit myself, I want the doctors to tell the patients themselves.”
Head of Clinical Services, Doctor Sefenyo said measures have been taken to ensure that essential services “are not disrupted”. He said since it would be “morally difficult to turn away” women in labour, emergencies within the labour ward and children with emergency cases would be taken care of.
At the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, the situation was not different. Nhyira FM’s Ohemeng Tawiah reported that disappointed patients have left the facility and are going home.
One of the patients suffering from a cardiac-related problem told him he came to the facility at 4am, but as at 12 p.m. he was yet to see the doctor.
But Luv FM’s Erastus Donkor said some doctors in some health facilities in the Ashanti Region are attending to patients including those at OPD.
From the Volta Region, Isaac Mintah reported that doctors there are confronting the issue with human face and are pondering over the impact of the strike action on the already dire situation in the region.