Striking Junior Doctors adamant
Accra, May 31, GNA - Striking Junior Doctors at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital on Wednesday said they would continue with their strike action until arrears of their salaries under the new salary structure were paid to them in one tranche by next week. They said the Government's plea asking them to resume work while data processing was being done to ensure payment would not work and explained that the Government had made several promises of such nature but never fulfilled any of them.
Speaking in an interview in Accra with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), Dr Mohammed Hadi Abdallah, Spokesperson for the Junior Doctors noted that until the last money for January to May 2006 for the majority of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) members and from October 2005 to May 2006 for Junior Doctors are paid in full, "we will not resume work". The Junior Doctors last Friday withdrew their services asking the Government to pay their salaries in arrears from October 2005 to May 2006 under the new salary structure in one tranche.
The Ministry of Health on May 30, in reaction, asked the striking Doctors to resume work while the processing of staff data in various health agencies was going on for the payment of their arrears by the first week of June.
The GMA and the Management of Korle-Bu Hospital have also pleaded with the Doctors to call off their action but to no avail. Dr Abdallah explained that ever since the Additional Duty Hour Allowance (ADHA) was phased out from the beginning of 2006 and replaced with the new salary structure, no Doctor had been paid the new salary. "This has created a lot of difficulty for us as doctors for the past five months because after monthly deductions of various items from our salaries we are left with nothing or only about 300,000 cedis to take home".
Mr Mustapha Salifu, Public Relations Officer of the Hospital, told the GNA that the Management of the Hospital had directed heads of the various departments to draw up duty rosters for Senior Doctors to attend to in-patients.
Mr Samuel Owusu-Agyei, a Deputy Minister of Health on May 30, urged Junior Doctors of Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital to resume work since data processing to ensure the payment of new salaries and arrears to all health workers had begun.
He explained that a mapping exercise to collect data "has been completed and the remaining processes have been initiated to ensure the implementation of the new salary scales as well as payment of arrears". The said the Ministry had not relented in its efforts to ensure that payment of the new salaries to all health workers in the public sector was effected without undue delay.
The Deputy Minister said the Ministry was aware that the Mapping Consultants had been working around the clock to complete the work assigned them but had been facing problems.
These included delays in the submission of staff data by the Ghana Health Service, the Teaching Hospitals and almost all other health agencies.
Others were the use of different formats for the data collection instead of the uniform one recommended by the Consultants and inconstancies and inaccuracies in the data received when validated against the payroll data.
He said in view of these problems, the Consultants had to spend four weeks cleaning the data, which they completed on May 26. "The problems hindering the work of the consultants were communicated to all Heads of Agencies in a letter dated May 16 2006 and signed by the Minister of Health, requesting them to exercise personal supervision over the submission of their staff data to facilitate and speed up the work of the Mapping Team", he said. A few Senior Doctors and Consultants were attending to in-patients when GNA visited the Hospital. 31 May 06