A health advocacy group, Patients’ Aid, is empowering the Ghanaian patient with education and legal support to demand better and quality services from healthcare providers.
The non-governmental organization has its main aim of assisting victims of medical negligence to access free legal services whilst promoting the rights and responsibilities of patients.
The Ghana Health Services’ Patient Charter states among others that a patient has the right to quality basic healthcare irrespective of geographical location.
The patient is also entitled to full information on his or her condition, management and possible risks involved except in emergency situations.
But for several years, little is known in the public about the charter which appears to only exist on bookshelves.
Reports of medical negligence, leading to the death of patients in some instances are frequently reported in the media.
The Ghana Medical and Dental Council, Nursing and Midwifery Council of Ghana have the mandate to investigate misconduct of medical doctors, nurses and midwives.
The Ghana Medical and Dental Council last year said it will take it up to June 2015 to finalise investigations into cases of medical negligence reported to it by some disgruntled Ghanaians.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council of Ghana for instance, exercises disciplinary powers over practitioners whilst prescribing and maintaining professional standards and conduct for practitioners.
Patients’ Aid, as a medical and legal body, will facilitate the process of patients seeking redress either at the hospital level or at the court.
Patients will be supported with free counseling, education and legal services.
Officials say issues of medical negligence should be investigated thoroughly to protect the rights of both healthcare providers and patients.
Chief Executive Officer Patients Aid, Enyonam Nornor-Quadjie wants some form of support for victims of medical negligence in Ghana.
“Even if one life is lost as a result of medical negligence; they are cases worth investigating. A lot of people go to hospital and they are not satisfied. We have a lot of abuses going on. People go and there is one form of medical negligence or the other. And sometimes these people they do not get help from anywhere. That is why Patients’ Aid wants to come in to help these people.”
Meanwhile, the Patients Aid has asked the Ghana Health Service to publicize the Patient Charter.
According to Ms Nornor-Quadjie, the Charter can help address some of challenges facing the health sector in the areas of patients’ rights and responsibilities.
“As per the Patient Charter developed by the Ghana Health Service, you have a right to full information on your condition, management and treatment. But it would even surprise you that, most of the nurses and doctors don’t even know the existence of the charter. This is simply because not so much has been done to publicize the charter. So yes we have the charter; but the contents have not been made public,” Ms Nornor-Quadjie said.
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