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General News of Monday, 10 August 2015

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Gov’t, GMA negotiations break down

Ghana's health sector is destined for serious crisis this week as attempts to resolve the current strike by public health sector doctors failed to yield any positive results.

Negotiations between a government team and that of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) yesterday (Sunday) broke down with both parties walking out of the meeting as they failed to make compromises.

The President of the GMA, Dr Kwabena Opoku-Adusei, told the Daily Graphic that what transpired at the meeting was virtually a withdrawal of the counter-proposals the government submitted to the GMA.

In what appeared to be a neck-to-neck discussions with only the vex issue of doctors retiring on their salaries, sources close to both parties described the breakdown in negotiations as a big disappointment.

Dr Opoku-Adusei said what that meant was that the doctors were going ahead to follow on their road map to a mass resignation.

Sources close to the meeting said the thorny issue that remained on the negotiating table was that of doctors of a certain category retiring on their salaries.

They said the government was of the view that it was not right for doctors to use patients as scapegoats to drive home their demands and, therefore, demanded that the doctors call off the strike while negotiations continued.

The sources said the government position was that the issue be referred to the yet-to-be-established Independent Emoluments Committee as recommended by the Constitutional Review Committee.

That, they explained, would have to be approved by Parliament even if the committee upheld the proposal.

They said the attention of the GMA’s team was drawn to the fact that the conditions of service for Article 71 holders had been referred to that committee.

That, the sources explained, was because the issue had serious financial implications for state resources.

Sources close to the negotiation team said the government had made counter-proposals in relation to the GMA’s submissions.

Although they did not want to give details, the sources cited for instance that on the issue of fuel, the government had counter-proposed 50, 40 and 30 gallons as against the 100 gallons for Snr. Specialist to Consultant, 90 gallons for Principal Medical Office to Specialist and 80 gallons for a House Officer to Snr Medical Officer.

The sources said although the government had agreed to negotiate with the GMA, it asked that the doctors call off the strike, since it was not only illegal but against fair labour practices.

The sources also told the Daily Graphic that a framework document for the conditions of service for all public sector health workers had also been adopted.

They said the issue of remuneration and allowances was being negotiated and that would be within the larger public sector negotiations.

Meanwhile, the Daily Graphic can confirm that doctors at the 37 Military Hospital last Friday had to perform an emergency surgery to save a doctor of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.

Just as doctors in public sector health facilities entered the second stage of their road map to mass resignation, doctor friends, relatives and close associates had to put in an emergency call for the doctor (name withheld) to be rushed to the security facility for an emergency surgery to be performed to save the life of the female doctor.

But doctors at the facility told the Daily Graphic that they were performing their responsibilities and that they were treating patients and not professionals.

The doctor was rushed to the facility last Friday with intestinal obstruction and had an emergency surgery performed on her.

The female doctor is currently recuperating at the Yaa Asantewaa Ward which is meant for lady officers and wives of officers of the Ghana Armed Forces.