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Health Care In Chaos - As Govt Meets Doctors On Wednesday   
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Reports from various parts of the country tell chilling stories of how patients were turned away from public hospitals and some ended up losing their lives before or upon reaching the next facility following withdrawal of Out-Patient Department (OPD) services by public sector doctors.

Monitoring by The Finder indicates that some patients were not even aware that doctors were on strike.

The patients had to leave the hospitals with their folders containing lab test results and other medical reports from their previous visits.

However, Ghanaians, especially patients who are anxious to see the over 1,000 doctors working in public hospitals return to work as soon as possible, will have to endure another three days as the withdrawal of Out-Patient Department (OPD) services at public hospitals bites hard.

This is because the anticipation that government will immediately find solution to the current deadlock for doctors to resume work today is far from reality.

The Finder can report that government has written to the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), the umbrella body of doctors, inviting them to a meeting on Wednesday, August 5, 2015, seven clear days after the withdrawal of OPD services.

As part of their roadmap, there will be withdrawal of OPD services for a week, after which emergency services will be withdrawn if government fails to meet their demands, after which they will resign en masse if there is still a stall.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the government will be seeking to convince the doctors to return to work while negotiations continue.
However, The Finder has learnt that anything short of fully signed conditions of service on Wednesday cannot bring the doctors back to the hospitals.

This position has been strengthened by the way officialdom seeks to demonise the doctors and make them extremely unpopular in the eyes of the public.

To ameliorate the suffering of Ghanaians, the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) has asked that all subscribers should seek services at over 1,000 private facilities nationwide that have been accredited by the NHIA.

However, Mr Frank Richard Thorblu, Executive Secretary of Health Insurance Service Providers Association of Ghana (HISPAG), told The Finder that the action by the public sector doctors should serve as a wake-up call to policymakers that private healthcare providers cannot be underestimated.

For him, the NHIA owes them from January to date, saying the usual delay in refund to service providers was impacting them negatively.

GMA’s Timelines

November 10, 2014: About 2,000 doctors in the country gave government an ultimatum till June 2015 to spell out their conditions of service or face their wrath.

March 30, 2015: The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) threatened to embark on a series of strikes if the problems with the payment of their conversion difference and pension contributions are not resolved in two months.

April 10, 2015: The GMA said it is ready to push government for appropriate conditions of service for doctors.
May 31, 2015: The GMA threatened another strike action over the same issues.

June 16, 2015: GMA issued its final warning to withdraw their services in July.

June 17, 2015: The Health Ministry expressed uncertainty about meeting the June 30 deadline to complete negotiations on conditions of service for public sector doctors.
June 29, 2015: The General Assembly of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) extended its threat to resign en bloc to July 29, 2015.

June 30, 2015: Government, through the Minister of Employment, Haruna Iddrisu, promised to institute conditions of service for doctors as one of the main legacies of President John Mahama.

July 21, 2015: The Ghana Medical Association served strong notice that its members may be compelled to resign en masse in the coming days if negotiations with government continue to move at a slow pace.
Source: The Finder

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