Doctors in public hospitals in Accra resumed work yesterday, following the directive by the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), to call off the strike, but the Out Patient Departments (OPDs) and Emergency Units in the hospitals were virtually empty.
The Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Ridge Hospital, Adabraka Polyclinic, Kaneshie Polyclinic, among other health institutions, resumed full services to the public with doctors, nurses, and other staff going about their normal duties.
The GMA, last month, declared a strike and withdrew OPD and emergency services in all public hospitals to press home their demand for a negotiated Conditions of Service from the government.
For three weeks, the doctors abandoned the hospitals, leaving patients to seek medical attention in private and quasi-government hospitals.
This brought negotiations between the association and the government to a temporal halt.
After several appeals from the public, the association called off the strike and directed its members to return to the consulting rooms from 8am yesterday for negotiations to resume.
When The Ghanaian Times visited the hospitals yesterday in the forenoon, just a handful of patients were in queues waiting to see the doctors in the consulting rooms.
At the Kaneshie Polyclinic, the doctors and their ancillary staff, were at post but few patients were seen at the OPD. No doctor was willing to speak to the media.
The situation was not different at the Korle Bu Polyclinic, which usually records a high number of patients at its OPD on a daily basis.
At the Surgical, Medical and Emergency units of the hospital, many of the beds in the wards were empty, with a few patients being attended to, by doctors and nurses present.
The Adabraka Polyclinic, just like the aforementioned places, also had health personnel at post with a few patients waiting to receive medical attention.
The Ridge Hospital, which is considered as the last referral point in the Greater Accra Region, had a similar story. The doctors and nurses were not willing to speak to the media, except to express their condolences to the entire media fraternity for losing its member, Samuel Nuamah, in a vehicle accident last week.
Some patients at the hospital expressed their delight about the decision by the doctors to call off their strike and return to post.
Felix Kofi Maglo, one of the patients, said he came to the hospital to receive medical treatment upon hearing the news that the doctors had called off the action.
“I came here some weeks back with a scan report only to be told the doctors were on strike. I had to return today upon hearing the news that the doctors have called off the action,” he said.
Madame Janet Acquah, a mother, said they came to the health centre last week and were told the doctors were on strike.
“I came with my sick son for medical treatment only to be told that the doctors were on strike, we had to rush him to a private hospital for medical treatment where the sum charged was quite hefty. Hearing the doctors had resumed normal duties in all public health centres today, we had to bring him back to this hospital,” she said.
She said she was very happy with the doctors’ decision to end the action adding, “I hope and pray that the government sorts out any differences with the Ghana Medical Association”.
Medical doctors at the Achimota Hospital in the Greater Accra Region reported to work yesterday after the three-week long strike declared by the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), reports Julius Yao Petetsi.
However, their return did not change the low patients’ attendance pattern at the hospital as a result of the strike.
Public health facilities in the country, during the period of the strike were partially closed as patients relied on quasi government health facilities for medical care.
The Achimota Hospital, noted for congestion, was deserted when The Ghanaian Times visited the facility yesterday.
The Out Patient Department (OPD), Pharmacy Section, and other wards were virtually empty as nurses, and other health workers at the facility, attended to the few patients who reported for medical assistance.
At the time of the visit, no emergency cases had been recorded at the hospital, leaving the emergency ward empty.
According to a nurse, (name withheld) “not all of them (doctors) have turned up but the few here can handle the pressure. As you can see, there is no pressure here”.
In the estimation of the nurse, the low turnout at the time of The Ghanaian Times’ visit was because patients were yet to accept that the doctors had returned to work.
A woman, Akua Ampomah, whose nine-month-old baby was attended to at about 12 noon yesterday at one of the consulting rooms, said she was examined to by an expatriate doctor, assisted by an interpreter.
Another patient, Sarah Adabrah, after being attended to by a Ghanaian doctor expressed her appreciation to the leadership of the GMA for calling off the strike in order to save lives.
Godfred Blay Gibbah reports from Tema that a visit to the Tema General Hospital (TGH) yesterday revealed that the doctors had resumed duty, but only a few patients had called at the Out Patient Department OPD) of the hospital to seek medical care as at 10am.
The Medical Director of TGH and President of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), , Dr. Kwabena Opoku-Adusei, was said to be at a meeting in Accra.
Dr. Osei Nkrumah, one of the doctors on duty said in anticipation of a large turn-out of patients, doctors who were supposed to work in the afternoon shift had joined those on the morning shift.
“People are aware we have resumed work, I hope the momentum will pick up during the course of the week,” he said.
Christian Agbenyegah, who brought the wife to see the doctor, said due to the strike, they had been to a private clinic where she was given medication to stabilise her condition, but added that it was expensive.
Mr. Agbenyegah was happy that the doctors had ended their three-week strike and were ready to negotiate with the government.
He hoped that both parties would reach a consensus soon.
From Kumasi, Kingsley E. Hope reports that doctors at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), were in the consulting rooms yesterday.
As early as 5 a.m. when The Ghanaian Times visited KATH, some doctors were seen working feverishly at the consulting rooms, while others were at the Out-Patient Department.
But, patients at the KATH, were not as many as the situation used to be, perhaps due to the fact that it was the first day of resumption of work by the doctors.
The story was not different at the South Suntreso Hospital, where some of the doctors were spotted attending to patients when this reporter got there at about 6:30 a.m.
However, at the Tafo Government Hospital, as at 8:00 a.m., there was no medical doctor at the premises while few patients were seen around.
None of the doctors approached, was willing to make any comment, but the Chairman of the Ashanti Division of the Ghana Medical Association, Dr. Frank Ankobea, urged Ghanaians to continue appealing to the government to ensure a fruitful negotiation about their codified Conditions of Service to avoid a further strike.
By Yaw Kyei & Michael Donkor