Minister Sparks Chaos In Korle-Bu

Dr. Kwaku Agyemang-Mensah
Newly appointed Health Minister Dr. Kwaku Agyemang-Mensah has suspended the decision by his predecessor, Sherry Ayittey, to dismiss Rev. Albert Okpoti-Botchway as CEO of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), igniting fresh confusion at the hospital.

Dr. Agyemang-Mensah, who was sworn in by President John Mahama on Monday, decided to quash the decision of Ms Ayittey upon reporting to office the same day.

In a letter addressed to the Board Chairman, Eddie Annan, dated Monday July 21, 2014, the new Minister indicated that although there were certain prominent issues that needed to be resolved at Korle Bu, ‘wisdom’ demanded that he took some time to study the situation before making any far-reaching decisions.

The Health Minister’s letter, copied to the Executive Secretary to President John Mahama and the Chief Director at the Ministry of Health read: ‘Having been sworn in as Minister of Health this morning, I have taken notice of certain pertinent problems at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital that need to be addressed.

‘Wisdom demands that I take some time to study the situation before making any far-reaching decisions. I would therefore be most obliged if you would suspend the implementation of the Ministry of Health’s letter dated July 7, 2014, with reference No. MOH/OM/14.’

Furthermore, the Minister said it was important that in administering the hospital, the principles of accountability and transparency were adhered to. ‘You are therefore, to take the necessary steps to urgently conclude the forensic audit of the Pharmacy Department,’ he directed.

Ms Sherry Ayittey, in a letter prior to her removal from the Health Ministry to the Fisheries sector, directed the Korle Bu Board to revert Rev. Botchway to his former position as a board member while investigations were launched into his tenure as CEO.

The board was asked in the letter dated July 7, 2014, to appoint the Acting Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Samuel Asiamah, as the Acting Chief Executive, pending the appointment of a substantive person to occupy the position.

Rev. Albert Okpoti-Botchway
Ms Ayittey had asked the Korle Bu board to ensure that Rev. Albert Okpoti-Botchway hands over all property of the hospital in his possession, provides comprehensive handing-over notes to the board chair and copies same to her and the incoming Acting Chief Executive.

The action by the then Health Minister followed a series of accusations and agitations by the Senior Staff Association of the hospital that the board and the management had spent more than GH¢1 million on luxury vehicles.

They also petitioned President John Dramani Mahama to intervene and dissolve the board chaired by Eddie Annan, and asked Rev Okpoti-Botchway to return an Audi A6 car to the dealers and a forensic audit conducted into the use of funds by him. He however, vehemently denied the allegations.

DAILY GUIDE has learnt that Dr. Agyeman-Mensah’s decision had already stirred fresh trouble in Ghana’s foremost referral hospital, where the staff had earlier called for the dissolution of the Eddie Annan-headed board.

A statement issued in Accra last week and signed by the President of the Senior Staff Association, Charles Nii Ofei-Palm, underscored: ‘We wish to humbly request for the reconstitution of the board to bring peace and industrial harmony to Korle Bu, which has eluded the hospital since the appointment of Mr. Eddie Annan as Board Chairman.’ They accused Rev OkpotI-Botchwey of signing documents and fast-tracking activities, including recruitment of staff at the time he had been asked to step aside. ‘Our fear is that his continuous stay in office might be injurious to the hospital as he is likely to conceal vital information,’ the statement pointed out. Nii Ofei-Palm further noted: ‘Considering the determination to defy the directive and anger shown by Messrs Eddie Annan and Botchway, we strongly believe they will frustrate and undermine the new Acting CEO, if they remain as chairman and member of the board respectively. Because of the danger they pose, we are once more calling for the dissolution of the board.’

By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri

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