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Health News of Thursday, 3 July 2014

Source: The General Telegraph

UCC junior doctors unpaid for ten months

The recent frustrations of junior doctors (House Officers) at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in the Ashanti Region as a result of unpaid salaries for months are now being replicated at the University of Cape Coast in the Central Region.

Reliably, this paper gathered that seeming agitation among the junior doctors at UCC is reaching its peak as only five out of 42 doctors are still working without pay for the past nine months.

According to our information, these house officers who were the first batch of students who graduated from the University of Cape Coast School of Medical Science (UCCSMS) on 31st August 2013 and are now in their 10th month working at the hospital, have no clue as to when they will be paid.

Although they officially started work on 16th September 2013, the junior doctors received their staff IDs on 27th April, 2014.

The General Telegraph can report that 37 of the junior doctors were posted to the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital while the remaining five were posted to the 37 Military Hospital in the Greater Accra Region.

The rather long delays and miscommunication between the doctors and the authorities responsible for registering them biometrically have compounded the problem.

The Junior doctors who finally completed their biometric registration on 7th May 2014, according to our information, are yet to have any relief with regard to when they would be paid.

However, a bird whispered to The General Telegraph that while those junior doctors at the UCC are weeping over the delay of their salaries, five of their colleagues, who were posted to the 37 Military Hospital in Accra, had all received their salaries just as those in KATH.

When contacted, the Ghana Medical Council (GMC) had confirmed the challenges resulting in the delay.

According to the registrar of GMC, Dr Eli Atikpui, though there were hitches, it was not an attempt to intentionally sideline the junior doctors in Cape Coast.

He assured that efforts were being made to ensure that salaries of the affected doctors were paid.

“I don’t think that they have been forgotten about. Once salaries are being prepared, they are prepared for virtually everybody. Once your information has been received, we don’t leave out anybody unless, of course, there are problems with the assumption of duties and all that” he told The General Telegraph.

He noted that “those in Cape coast decided to come to Accra for their biometric registration, while arrangements were earlier made for them to have it in Cape Coast. So those from Ministry of Finance went to Cape Coast only for them to be told that these people have come to Accra to have their biometric registration” “Were they posted at the same time?, these are things that we need to get…did they submit their acceptance letter at the same time, were their assumptions of duties rendered at the same time, I mean if they were all submitted at the same time then I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t be paid,” Dr. Atikpui added.

He demystified the perception that it was the persistent letters that were written by the junior doctors at KATH as well as the media hype that was given to the story that prompted the salaries to be paid.

“I mean the issue is that when the documents are presented we don’t leave out those from Cape Coast, those from Kumasi and all that. I mean there is a lot of work to be done and we don’t really have time to say that we are taking out those from Cape Coast or KATH. We don’t do that! You see it is now going to appear as though the letter that those in Kumasi wrote that was what really facilitated the payment of their salaries but that is not,” he emphatically stated.

Meanwhile The General Telegraph has gathered that the unpaid junior doctors in Cape Coast Teaching Hospital dispatched a team to Accra last Friday to officially deliver their petition to the Ghana Medical Council (GMC) on their grievances.

A copy of the letter had been sent to the Ministry of Finance, the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital as well as the Presidency.

“We would like to point out the fact colleagues from sister institutions including the KomfoAnokye Teaching Hospital, Tamale Teaching Hospital, Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital and even our own colleagues from the University of Cape Coast School who are undertaking their housemanship training at the 37 Military Hospital have all received full payment of their salaries. We wish to highlight that the assumption of duties of some of our colleagues from these above named institutions was later than Monday 16th September 2013.”

“We therefore write to implore you to expedite the procedure in order for us to receive full payment of our salary arrears, since we have now entered our 10th month of working without a salary. It is not our desired plan to cease our duties since we love the work that we do, however we can not continue to work under these circumstances. Consequently we may have no option but to advice ourselves appropriately,” the junior doctors warned.

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