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General News of Monday, 8 February 2016


Korle-Bu deaths: Health Minister orders probe

Health Minister Alex Segbefia has ordered investigations into the death of some patients at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital to ascertain if there is any correlation between their passing and the indefinite closure of the facility’s three surgical clinics.

“We’ll look into it, I’ll ask the Chief Executive Officer to look into it and see whether there has been any direct correlation between people who have passed and the referral process and if that is the case then you would have to look into why they were not deemed emergencies,” Mr Segbefia told Atiewin Mbillah in an interview at the hospital.

A number of patients have died at the Hospital since the closure of the surgical wards, CEO Dr Gilbert Buckle confirmed to Class News’ Atiewin Mbillah on Monday February 8, although he would not say if the deaths were directly as a result of the closure of the surgical wards.

Mr Segbefia was at the hospital the same day to assess the situation that led to the indefinite closure of the three surgical clinics.

He was confronted with the grim reality of an acute shortage of nurses at the wards.

Ghana’s major referral hospital started turning away patients seeking surgical treatment for brain tumours, cancers, spinal problems and many other serious ailments from Monday until further notice.

It will only attend to emergency cases. Class News’ Fred Smith reports that the urology clinic that deals with surgical and emergency diseases of the male and female urinary tract system; and the male reproductive organs and the neurosurgery clinic that deals with ailments of the nervous system, will not admit new cases unless they are emergencies.

The general surgery clinic of the hospital is also suspending services until further notice.

A statement from the hospital said the closure is to allow for work to be completed in some theatres and recovery wards.

However, documents intercepted by Class News indicate that the actions came into force after doctors expressed their displeasure of being forced to put critically ill patients on long waiting lists.

The doctors at the surgical theatre, in a resolution after an emergency meeting on January 25, revealed that part of the surgical unit has not been operational since 2014 forcing them to postpone several surgeries.
Some patients, according to the doctors have died as others have developed serious complications.

All this time the hospital has been collecting money from all these patients.

A letter written by the head of department of surgery, Dr Adu Aryee, to the chief executive, Dr. Gilbert Buckle said the hospital appeared to be engaged in fraud by collecting money from patients and putting them on a waiting list even though they know they cannot provide them treatment immediately.

The ultramology unit, for instance, has conducted only six operations since October 2015 whilst the Neurosurgery unit has performed less than half the number of surgeries for 2013 since the ground floor was closed for renovations.

Documents in possession of Class News revealed that resident doctors have already warned management about the risk of Korle-Bu losing its accreditation as a training centre following the developments.

An ultimatum for management to fix the problem expired last week.