Medical Assistants step in

Physician and Medical Assistants took over consultation duties at some health facilities, as the strike of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) entered its seventh day.

From Ho, Alberto Mario Noretti reports that, Physician Assistants took over OPD consultations at the Ho Municipal Hospital, following the withdrawal of such services by striking doctors.

When The Ghanaian Times visited the hospital after mid-day, Mr. Charles Torkornoo, Senior Health Services Administrator, said there were two Physician Assistants on duty, and that health care services were running smoothly.

The doctors according to him, were still attending to the ward and theatre cases and that the withdrawal of OPD services by the doctors had had little impact on service delivery at the 140-bed hospital.

As at 12:45 p.m., the OPD had cleared 114 cases, leaving the department with virtually no patients.

From Takoradi Clement Adzei Boye, reports that seven days into the public hospitals doctors strike, the situation seemed not to have seriously affected healthcare delivery in the Western Region, as Medical Assistants were at post, attending to patients, health authorities have said.

“The only critical centre, is the Effia Nkwanta Regional Hospital, where major specialised and emergency services are provided,” the directorate has said.

“I went round on Tuesday and the Medical Assistants are handling Out-Patient Department (OPD) services. The only exception is Effia Nkwanta and so, the situation is not as critical as we have in Accra.” the Western Regional Director of Health Services, Dr. Emmanuel Tinkorang, said yesterday in an update on the strike.

He said for the Western Region, several health facilities were manned by one doctor, with the support of the Medical Assistants, who also provide some OPD services, adding however, that in case of emergencies, the doctors would assist.

So far, he said, Kwesimintsim Hospital, for example, had four Medical Assistants while Takoradi European Hospital, had three, who were on hand to provide health care to the public, adding that, the situation had not been as stressful as in Accra and other   big hospitals.

He said, some patients might be aware of the doctors’ strike and therefore, preferred going to private hospitals for treatment.

From Kumasi Kingsley E. Hope reports that an emergency meeting was ongoing at press time yesterday at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), between the management and the heads of department of the hospital.

The high profile meeting, which was being chaired by the Chief Executive of the hospital, Dr. Joseph Akpaloo, The Ghanaian Times gathered, brought together most of the top-rank personnel of the biggest referral facilities in the northern sector.

They deliberated on contingency measures to avoid any adverse effects at the hospitals following the Ghana Medical Association (GMA’s) hint of a withdrawal of all emergency services from today.

Though The Ghanaian Times was yet to receive a full briefing of the consensus emanating from the meeting since it was still in session at press time, pieces of information gathered indicated that some senior medical officers had agreed to attend to emergency cases during the strike period.

The GMA began a strike last Thursday claiming that their employer, the government, had failed to give them Conditions of Service.

As a result, doctors at all the government hospitals in the country withdrew out-patient services but were handling emergency cases and attending to patients already on admission.

The doctors are from today to activate the second phase of their strike by withdrawing all emergency services.

The Ghanaian Times during a visit to the hospital yesterday morning, found it almost deserted with the Polyclinic and the Out-Patient Department also empty.

The consulting rooms as well as the pharmacies whose staff are also on strike were closed with no patients, while nurses strolled to and from the hospital with their concentration on the wards.

The nurses had become the interface between doctors and patients since they relayed information that the doctors were not attending to new patients.

A 54-year old man, Stephen Aborah, was there for drugs for his high blood pressure; a woman with migraine, Stephanie Amoako; a young girl suffering from stomach ulcer, Rhoda Apraku; and a man sick of malaria; and Yaw Kwakye, were turned away from the hospital within the period of the visit.

Francis Breyie, who accompanied Mr. Aborah, expressed disgust at the development and pleaded with government to, as a matter of urgency, find a solution to it before it got worse.

“Medical care is one thing we never should toy with. Now we are left with no option than to buy the drugs at the private pharmacies and you and I know they are expensive there. Many people will die if we are not careful”, he bemoaned.

From Koforidua, David Kodjo, reports that activities at the Out Patient Department (OPD) and emergency cases at the Koforidua Government Hospital were still on-going as patients were being attended to.

Though there were no staff medical doctors at the OPD for the past two weeks because the two staff doctors have gone back to school for further studies, the house officers were performing, holding the fort effectively.

As a result, the withdrawal of service announced by the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) to press home their demand for Condition of Service from government was not hitting hard at the Eastern Regional Hospital.

This is because of the presence of about 34 house officers who are up to the task.

A visit to the various wards by The Ghanaian Times yesterday confirmed that services were running.

Doctors at the emergency and in-patients wards were all at post going about their normal duties.

Meanwhile, there was little pressure at the OPD ward as only few patients were spotted being attended to by the doctors.

Dr. Cardinal Newton, the Acting Medical Superintendent of the hospital noted that though there was a declaration of strike by the GMA, activities at the hospital were normal because of the services of the house officers.

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