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Health Ministry In Trouble As Community Nurses Threaten Legal Action   
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Over thirteen thousand (13,000) Community Health Nurses (CHN), who are up in arms against government for identifying them wrongly after re-naming them, have threatened to go to court, if government fails to honour its pledge to treat them fairly.

Consequently, the aggrieved nurses announced to embark on an indefinite nationwide strike, to demand fair treatment from government.

The nurses are unhappy that the Ministry of Health (MoH) now refers to them as Nursing Assistants instead of Community Health Nurses after completing their certificate programmes.

The strike by the nurses, which begins today, Tuesday, May 31, 2016, Today, has gathered, will adversely affect healthcare delivery at major hospitals across the country.

The nurses bemoaned that “unfair treatment meted out to them by stakeholders in the health sector” was so pervasive to the extent that the situation was affecting the livelihood of Community Health Nurses in the country.

At a press conference yesterday in Accra, President of the Association, Ms. Esther Bamfo, said their intended action is to impress upon government to heed their demands.

The health workers lamented they were not given the appropriate certification after completion of the Ministry of Health sanctioned diploma course at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

They claimed they bought the logistics they worked with from their own pockets without any support from government.

“We have challenges with our promotion. Some have spent eight, eleven years, seven years, six years on the job and there is no promotion for them and no opportunity for them to progress. Even the logistics to work with are not there.

…What we know is that about 90 per cent of community health nurses have used their own pocket money to buy motorbikes,” she said.

“…Fuelling and servicing them on their own, and it is these same motorbikes that they go to work with and bring data for Ghana Health Service (GHS) and mother Ghana to send to World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF to receive donor support, yet we are being treated this way,” she lamented.

She alleged that the National Health Council (NHC) acted under the guise of the Health Regulatory Act (Act 857) to continue to issue “Nurse Assistant” certificates to the community health nurses even after undergoing successful training by the Health Institutions Secretariat – an agency of the Ministry of Health.
She stressed that they will reject the new name “because Nursing Assistants do not have conditions of service.”

Regulators of Community Health Nurses, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) changed CHN to Nursing Assistants based on the 2013 Health Professions Regulatory Bodies Act 857.

According to her, leadership of the Association was not consulted before the decision was taken.

Ms. Bamfo bemoaned the authorities’ failure to allow the nurses to upgrade their skills in the profession after several years of petitioning the Council.
She said, “even those who are fortunate to participate in the midwifery programs instituted by the Ministry of Health are awarded with ordinary certificates instead of a Diploma.

“Why the refusal to award them with a diploma certificate having already studied for two years and practised for more than three years and studied two years further to obtain the same grade…Is that what we call career progression”,  she quizzed?.

According to her, although Community Health Nursing has been in existence since 1960 and has become an important point of call in the health service delivery, especially in rural parts of the country, it is the least respected in the healthcare delivery chain.

Ms. Boafo lamented the discrimination, unfairness and the frustration her colleagues go through, and charged members of the Association not to return to work until their grievances and concerns are addressed.
Source: Today

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