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Opinions of Saturday, 20 January 2018

Columnist: Rockson Adofo

Admonition to Ghanaians living abroad to strictly respect their workplace regulations

This is a word of caution for my Ghanaian compatriots residing and working in foreign lands.

I can myself bear witness to how Ghanaians are law-abiding while abroad and most importantly, in their workplaces. However, using this publication to enhance their awareness and warn them against the consequences of going contrary to such regulations will do most Ghanaians more good than harm.

Unlike in Ghana, when you are floutingly caught in the web of the law abroad, you will be dealt with accordingly. There will be no any uncle, Minister of Government or “order from above” intervening to save you or set you free. The law will take its natural or agreed course with you.

This writing is solely based on something that a Ghanaian nurse in London has done, the probably escalation of which incident to the attention of her superiors might cost her her job.

However, it shall not be brought to the knowledge of her bosses, although I find what she has done a gross misconduct, a breach of the terms of her contract with the likely punitive measure of dismissal from her job.

Any nurse, like a medical doctor or whoever works at the hospital as a staff, and has access to a patient’s clinical records, must treat them with absolute confidentiality.

For the fear, or avoidance, of, a nurse becoming fully aware of the details of a patient’s illness and its causes, with the possibility of divulging such confidential information to outsiders, nurses in the UK are by hospital regulations barred from attending to patients who are their relations, friends or very well known to them outside in their private life when such patients are admitted to the hospital.

When a patient of the description just made above is admitted to your ward, the nurse has the obligation to inform their superior about it. The patient will be removed from the list of those that the nurse must attend to. The nurse should not go near that patient who will be assigned to a different nurse.

The nurse in question, although informed her superiors about a particular patient after attending to the patient, having read his/her medical records and becoming fully aware of why the person was on admission to the hospital.

The nurse then phoned to her (nurse’s) contacts in the US who then escalated the news to their favourites in Ghana all with malicious intent. Those in Ghana added their own bits and pieces of exaggerations to spread the news like wildfire as seen in harmattan or summer period.

The nurse knew very well that those she passed the information to are the bitterest enemies of the patient. In Ghana, many people unfortunately have that bizarre attitude of gloating over the misfortune of their opponents or enemies. Anyway, the harm is already done. Nevertheless, no one is going to convey the nurse’s attitude of disrespecting the hospital’s rules to her superiors for her to earn the sack.

Those to whom she passed the information know themselves and know her. They had better advise her to desist from such transgressions that violate the terms of her signed contract as a UK nurse, if not the ethics of her nursing profession. This time she will be allowed to go scot free but next time some patient may hold her tightly responsible for her actions.

Why do some court judges at times recuse themselves from presiding over, or sitting on the bench of, court cases, that they happen to be related to, or be friends with, one of the litigants or have personal interests in? If a case was brought to the court of a judge who knows the plaintiff or the defendant, it is a normal practice for such a judge to recuse themselves.

No matter how fair the judge will be, if the case is decided in favour of the person they know based solely on the availability of the abundance of credible evidence and facts presented to the court by the winner, the public may still accuse the judge of bias.

To avoid such public perception and unnecessary accusatorial allegations or retributions, the judges normally publicly declare their unwillingness to sit on such cases by recusing.

Again, anyone who operates closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras for the purposes of preventing crimes and ensuring the public safety has the obligation to abide by the Data Protection Act.

The Data Protection ACT 1998 as upheld in the UK is vast in content but in brief, I will say it is “laws and regulations that make it illegal to store or share some types of information about people without their knowledge or permission”

Anyone who goes against any of the stipulations in the ACT contravenes the rules and thereby exposes themselves to prosecution. Let me be clear here by citing the following as a case scenario for the purpose of explaining.

When operating the cameras from a hidden area from the public view and the operator chances to capture two adults having say, sex, in where the culprits believe to be out of the public view but fortunately or unfortunately covered by closed-circuit camera view, the operator should quickly turn away the camera from them.

They, having sex, does not amount to crime warranting its observation and capture on recorded camera. It does not contravene public safety. Therefore, to continue to watch that scene on camera for any reason, when discovered by the authority, can lead to the operator getting the sack or facing disciplinary action.

Finally, we have to be mindful of how we go about our workplace activities as any negligence on our part can culminate in dire consequences to us. I hope the nurse in this case and all those intending to do as the nurse has done given the opportunity will be very careful before they find themselves entangled in some sort of inextricable legal tussle.