Government has released a draft document detailing some conditions of service for public sector doctors who have been striking for weeks.
The document is not final, but it sets out the framework within which a conclusive document will be formulated.
Health Minister, Alex Segbefia said, “the bringing together of all the relevant stakeholders to develop this Framework as a guide to industrial relations and negotiations for Conditions of Service for the public sector health workforce is another demonstration of the Government’s commitment to deepen good governance accountability and transparency in the way it deals with Medical Doctors and Dentists and the Ghanaian public.”
Doctors have been out of the wards for more than two weeks now with many hospitals deserted whilst others have been overwhelmed by an increased number of patients.
The doctors gave government an ultimatum to give them conditions of service or they would withdraw OPD services and follow that with the withdrawal of emergency services a week after and then resign en masse in a week’s time if nothing was done.
On August first they carried out the threat to withdraw OPD services after failed talks and subsequently withdrew emergency services.
Friday, August 14, 2015, the General Assembly of the Ghana Medical Association voted to extend the strike, accusing government of not showing enough commitment to resolve their concerns.
They said if government gave them the improved conditions of service they were demanding, they would immediately call off the strike and go back to work.
The 64-page draft document, according to Mr Segbefia, is to achieve to main objectives:
It provide a Conditions of Service for equity for all Medical Doctors and Dentists of the health service by applying the same standards and principles in matters that concern them, and plan for engagement, remuneration, promotion, labour relations and discipline, end of service, and other benefits in the health service of Ghana.
“This document provides a Conditions of Service (Collective Agreement) by Ghana Medical Association on behalf of Medical Doctors and Dentist and the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission for and on behalf of the managements of Ghana Health Service (GHS), Teaching Hospitals (TH), Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG), Mental Health Authority, National Blood Service, National Ambulance Service and any other Agency under the Ministry, on the other part,” it added.
It said that even though as essential service providers, health workers are by law not permitted to call a strike, “It however behoves the employer to ensure that a congenial working environment is created for the health workforce to discharge their duties effectively. It is strongly believed that having a comprehensive and equitable Conditions of Service of the Ministry’s employees is one surest way of forestalling labour unrest in the health sector.”
It remains to be seen what the response of the doctors to this document will be.