Dr Elias Sory, Director-General of Ghana Health Service (GHS), on Monday urged health workers to work hard to ensure quality health care delivery in Ghana.
He said the current record of health care delivery in the country was below expectation and cited instances where some health care providers and professionals misconduct themselves, while others abused their oath of allegiance to serve all humanity by rejecting postings to rural communities.
Dr Sory made the call when launching a week-long programme to commemorate the 45th anniversary of Health Service Workers’ Union (HSWU), in Accra.
The celebration under the theme; “Unionisation of the Health Worker, the Pre-Requisite to Quality Health Care Delivery and Better Conditions of Service,” would be an annual event to showcase members’ contribution to health care delivery and the Union’s achievements and challenges.
Activities planned for the celebrations would include interaction with Regional Directors of Health, clean-up exercises at hospitals in all regional capitals and symposia to be climaxed on Friday, September 10, with a grand durbar at Takoradi in the Western Region.
Dr Sory said quality health care was very critical to the development of the nation and the theme for the celebrations symbolised the importance of unionism to the worker.
He pointed out that unionism, presented employees with a unified platform for proper dialogue and negotiations for better salaries, conditions of service and further enhances professionalism among members.
Dr Sory congratulated the union for its achievements in the past over health issues and said emerging trend of new diseases such as H1N1 and SARS, demanded that health workers did more to ensure public education and safety to prevent large scale epidemics that could claim many lives.
He called for teamwork which was critical in ensuring a sustained and quality health care delivery system, where the labourer up to the doctor should team-up to assure clients of quality and safety in all facilities to bring about trust and satisfaction.
Dr Sory encouraged health workers to follow procedures in their respective institutions and take advantage of the numerous opportunities being offered by the various universities and training institutions nationwide, to upgrade themselves in order to be abreast with current trend of health challenges and needs.
He said GHS was working very hard to improve quality in the health system and cited the GHS’s Customer Care Programme aimed at educating health workers on quality customer care, adding, “GHS has also mounted a leadership succession plan to ensure teamwork between leadership and their subordinates for smooth take-off of jobs if the need be”.
Dr Sory acknowledged the various challenges, such as poor working conditions and lack of proper equipment and infrastructure in some health facilities and gave the assurance that government would endeavour to address them.
Professor Nii Otu Nartey, Chief Executive Officer of Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), underscored the importance of a strong unified negotiating force to be able to bargain for enhanced salaries for its members under the new Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS).
He noted that with expected enhanced remunerations, employees would be expected to reciprocate the wage improvement by giving off their utmost best to their jobs.
“Management is therefore collaborating with Ministry of Health to work out a performance agreement contract scheme at various levels of health care delivery to monitor their activities,” he added.
“I believe the current changes in the health sector would require leadership of labour unions to refocus and adopt strategies on how to partner the employer to enhance service delivery,” he said.
Prof. Nartey reiterated the call on health workers to change their attitudes to work, saying “our patients’ profiles are changing and we are seeing patients who are assertive and are demanding value for money. Although many of our patients are quite apprehensive of the services we offer, it is clear that the media and the public are not going to overlook the lapses in our work.”
Currently the management of KBTH is confronted with the challenge of managing salaries of staff paid from the Internally Generated Funds (IGF), he said.
Prof. Nartey said with the current numerical strength of about 1,000, management had been able to migrate about 300 to the government payroll and was in the process of adding more which would help reduce the IGF staff number to a level that would enable management introduce equal work for equal pay.
He announced that the management and the Board of Directors had been occupied with implementing strategies to improve the quality of care to patients and address some of the challenges facing the hospital.
Prof. Nartey said by the end of September, this year, work would begin on the replacement of 13 old elevators to bring relief to patients and staff, with the provision of GH¢2.4 million by government for the cost and installation.
He said management had acquired a water tanker in the interim to serve the various departments during shortage of water while more lasting solutions were being sought.
Plans are underway to construct a 2.5-million-gallon reservoir to enable the hospital to function normally for 10 days during any water shortage in Accra.
Mr Abu Kuntulo, General Secretary of HSWU, paid tribute to the past leadership, saying it was their toil and visionary leadership that had brought the Union to its present state.
There was a goodwill message from Ghana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) read by Mr Kofi Asamoah, Secretary-General, who re-affirmed the need for the HSWU to work hard to ensure quality health care delivery in Ghana.