General News of Friday, 11 October 2013
Source: Daily Graphic
Four hundred and forty out of the 690 junior nurses at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) whose names were submitted for the payment of their 21 months’ salary arrears are either ‘ghosts’ or non-nursing staff of the hospital.
The Ministry of Health has, therefore, ordered for a head count of all staff of the KBTH who are paid from the Consolidated Fund.
This is because the ministry is of the opinion that there may be other people within the hospital who are paid by the government but who should not be paid.
But the Chief Executive Officer of KBTH, Rev Albert O. Botchway, has dismissed any claims of ghost names.
He said the situation, if any at all, could be blamed on some weaknesses in the system.
According to him, there were no mechanisms by which the names of people who had left the public service or did not take up appointments could be detected.
Rev Botchway said those inherent weaknesses in the public sector in the country needed to be addressed.
But the Public Relations Officer of the MoH, Mr Tony Goodman, told the Daily Graphic that but for the intervention of the ministry, which ordered KBTH to pay the nurses from its own internally generated funds, the ministry, through the Ministry of Finance, would have paid money into the accounts of 690 supposed nurses, instead of 250.
The current number of workers at the KBTH on government payroll is 4,000.
Mr Goodman told the Daily Graphic in an interview that after the nurses had gone on strike and the ministry had requested for their names, a list of 690 names was presented.
However, he said the MoH detected that the nurses had been employed by the KBTH without due consultation with the MoH and, therefore, they were not captured in the 2013 budget of the ministry.
Subsequently, he said, the MoH instructed the hospital to pay the nurses their arrears from its own internally generated funds.
The anomaly was detected when the ministry called for a list of the names of the people who were paid from the hospital’s internally generated funds.
Mr Goodman said the names of the 250 would be put in the budget of the MoH for the 2014 financial year, adding that they could, however, not be paid before then.
To that end, he said, the MoH had sought clearance from the Ministry of Finance, so that the KBTH would pay the remaining arrears from its internally generated funds, instead of from the Consolidated Fund.
Explaining how the list of names of 690 was sent to the MoH for payment, Rev Botchway said the list was compiled 21 months ago for financial clearance when the people were engaged by Korle-Bu.
He said the list was not only for nurses but included doctors, administrators and healthcare professionals.
Explaining further, he said what rather came out when the ministry directed Korle-Bu to pay its bill was that it detected that out of the list, 165 had either vacated post, were already on the payroll or did not pick up their appointment letters.
So far, he said, out of the 525 health workers left, 316 were nurses,135 were doctors in active service, with the remaining being other professionals.
The KBTH has, since the directive, written cheques for 432 people, which had all been picked up by their owners, leaving only 37 yet to be picked.
According to him, the MoH directive that Korle-Bu should pay from its own funds had rather helped in cleaning the list which, according to him, was an old one submitted 21 months ago.