He explained that the doctors cannot continue to be on strike while precious lives are being lost and a sense of fear and helplessness is pervading the country.
“Accidents and diseases are no respecter of persons or titles and we are all at risk and cannot afford to have the strike drag on.”
Nana Akufo-Addo made the appeal in a press statement issued in Accra, yesterday.
Doctors in public health institutions have embarked on an indefinite strike for two weeks now and the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) is expected to hold an emergency general council today in Koforidua to review the industrial action.
Many eminent Ghanaians, professional bodies, the Trades Unions Congress, and the National Peace Council have all appealed to the doctors to rescind their decision and return to work while negotiations continue.
According to the NPP flagbearer, the only path to a resolution of the problem was for both parties to return to the negotiation table.
“The doctors are negotiating to get the best terms as possible for their members, but they are not unreasonable or are they economically illiterate.”
He blamed the strike on the breakdown in the negotiations between the government and the GMA over the conditions of service for doctors.
According to Nana Akufo-Addo, it is most unfortunate that the negotiations should have been allowed to degenerate into the lack of confidence and display of bad faith, because “doctors as a group of professionals do not easily resort to strike action”.
He cautioned that it was important that all those who seek to comment on the problem, especially those who speak on behalf of government, avoid the name calling that has characterised government’s handling of the dispute so far.
“It is absurd that some members of government are seeking to politicise this strike by portraying the NPP as being the instigators. It is an insult to the intelligence and integrity of the thousands of doctors in this country,” he said.
Nana Akufo-Addo urged government negotiators to deal with the leadership of the doctors “as patriotic, knowledgeable, mature adults.”
He added that, “the media war and selective leaking of negotiating documents should cease”.
He cautioned that the challenge “would not be solved even if all retired doctors should be drafted into our hospitals; the prospect of hiring retired doctors should therefore not be held out as part of the negotiations”.
The solution does not lie in asking people to go to private medical centres that accept National Health Insurance cards; many such institutions are already opting out of the scheme with the continued difficulty in paying for the services.”
“There cannot, and there will not be a resolution other than getting the doctors back to work. There is nothing to be gained from trying to call the bluff of the doctors,” the flagbearer said.
According to him, it would therefore be in the interests of all Ghanaians that a negotiated settlement was found as quickly as possible.
“That will only happen when both sides go back to the table and negotiate in an atmosphere of mutual respect and a realisation of the urgency of the situation.”