The recent announcement of the restoration of allowances for nurse trainees was in order because government erred in the earlier decision to scrap it, the Greater Accra Regional Organiser of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Anthony Nukpenu, has said.
“We might have erred in that direction because the steps being taken were not ripe and they should not have taken off,” Mr Nukpenu said on Saturday October 15.
The governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) had earlier indicated that nurse trainees in government institutions would no longer enjoy allowances but provisions had been made for them to access student loans.
This was because government said it was eradicating the quota system, which places a restriction on the number of students who can gain admission into institutions for training of nurses.
This meant that government could channel resources to improve facilities in these institutions to cater for the increased enrolment.
But government later rescinded its decision after pressure from various quarters and numerous demonstrations by the trainees.
Mr Nukpenu, who was a guest on Citi FM’s The Big Issue, a current affairs programme, explained that the aim of government was to upgrade institutions offering certificate programmes to run diploma and degree programmes.
According to him, due to the increasing number of admissions anticipated, government could no longer sustain the allowance system hence the scrapping of the allowance system in order to focus on more upgrades.
He indicated that public nurse training institutions did not offer certificate programmes, hence were not supposed to be affected by the cancellation of the allowances.
He added that with the scrapping of allowances for nursing students, the infrastructure, and other upgrades, to cater for the expected rise in admissions should have taken place. But since that had not happened, the revocation of the allowances should not have come into effect.
“They are not being awarded a diploma. The necessary facilities needed to improve the campuses of nursing training have not been done and we should not have taken [them off] in line with [those being awarded] a diploma,” he said.
He refuted allegations that the government was forced to change its decision due to the opposition New Patriotic Party’s promise to restore the allowance fully if voted into power.
Asked by host Umaru Sanda Amadu whether the president acted on wrong advice, Mr Nukpenu said: “It happens not only in Ghana…and even [former President] Kufuor also had wrong advice.”
Mr Nukpenu said he would blame the Minister of Health and key authorities in the health sector for the problem. “I will put the blame on the ministers and people who manage the health sector. …All the systems working in the health sector did not do their work well. The minister is the head and manager of that system,” he stressed.