The indefinite strike declared by the Ghana Association of Certified Registered Anaesthetists (GACRA) on some health facilities across the country has entered day four.
Checks by the Ghanaian Timesindicate that major surgical cases have either been put on hold or referred to private and other tertiary hospitals in the position to undertake such procedures.
Members of the GACRA on January 1 announced a nationwide strike mainly over claims of expiry of their operating licences due to their withdrawal of affiliation to the Medical and Dental Council (MDC) in December last year.
In addition to issues bordering on their conditions of service and restriction of some anesthesia procedures, the Association have indicated their resolve not to continue work until their demands are considered.
At the Greater Accra Regional Hospital, all qualified anaesthetists were out of post when the paper visited around 8:00am in the morning.
Sources at the hospital disclosed that the withdrawal of the anaesthetists numbering about 18 had laid the burden on only two doctor anaesthetists at the hospital to handle emergency cases.
“Because we are getting referrals as a result of the action, management have called in some student anaesthethists to help with the situation but that in itself is illegal and we hope their concerns are addressed soon to forestall casualties,” one of the sources said.
At the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), it was observed that some referred obstetric emergency cases were being attended to albeit, registered anaesthetists were absent from work.
Other hospitals in the Ashanti region, including the Manhyia Government Hospital, Ejisu, Suntreso, Obuasi government hospital, among others,unable to perform surgeries are said to be referring cases to the KomfoAnokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), increasing pressure on the facility.
In a telephone interview, Public Relations Officer of the GACRA, Seth McAndoh, said its members were ready to go back to work once the Ministry of Health (MOH) ensured members licences were renewed to practice.
“Every year, members are expected to renew their license with the MDC to be eligible to practice but because we have severed ties with them, our mandate to practice is stalled and it is the Ministry which must step in to either extend or renew the licence we have now so we can practice.
The National Labour Commission gave us a reminder that it was illegal for anyone to engage in the practice after 31st December 2021 without renewing our license. We are simply obeying the rules and we don’t want to engage in any illegality,” he stated.
According to the PRO, the Ministry was yet to engage the Association on the impasse and once that was done, it was willing to back down on the strike.
“We believe patients must not suffer for this but it is in their interest that we are fighting for this. We are not asking for a salary increment. We want the Ministry to extend our licence, create separate desk to regulate anaesthesia issues and give us a separate regulatory body to champion the progress of our profession and when that is done, we will go back to work,” he said.
Meanwhile, when contacted, the Public Relations Officer of the MoH, Elorm Ametepe, said the Ministry would take steps in the coming days to engage all parties in the matter and ensure an amicable way forward.
BY ABIGAIL ANNOH