Social worker tells doctors to stop using patients as bargaining chip

stethoscopeDr Isaac Amo-Antwi, a Takoradi based Social Worker on Tuesday urged the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) to stop using patients as a bargaining chip in their agitation for salary adjustment and other remuneration.

“Using patients as bargaining power is an affront to humanity and also a violation of section 163 of the Labour Law (Act 651). GMA’s industrial action contravenes the country’s labour laws,” Dr Amo-Antwi noted in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra.

He said Act 651 stipulates that an employer carrying on or a worker engaged in an essential service shall not resort to a lockout or strike in connection with or in furtherance of any industrial dispute involving the workers in the essential services.

He also pointed out that the use of patients as bargaining power was against the Hippocratic Oath taken by physicians and other healthcare professionals by which they swore to practice medicine ethically and honestly.

“Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief ….

“If I fulfill this path and do not violate it, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and art, being honoured with fame among all men for all time to come; if I transgress it and swear falsely, may the opposite of all this be my lot”.

Unfortunately, he said,  the country’s medical practitioners continued to use the health of the people as bargaining power, adding “this is unacceptable and we must all rise up and ensure that GMA plays by the rules”.

He contended: “He who demands equity must come with clean hands or alternatively, equity will not permit a party to profit from his own wrong doing. In other words, if you ask for help about the actions of someone else but have acted wrongly, then you do not have clean hands and you may not receive the help you seek”.

He did not understand why families should continue to suffer from the actions and in-actions of medical officials in the pursuit of their own interest. “What happens to families who lose their loved ones as a result of the action of medical officers?”, he queried.

Dr Amo-Antwi indicated that on March 27 this year the National Labour Commission (NLC) which mediated in the labour dispute between GMA and Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) set out a schedule of payment on interim market premium on GMA arrears.

He appealed to Government and other stakeholders to build trust in the labour front whilst urging FWSC to intensify public education on the Single Spine Salary Structure.

He said the recent labour unrest was an indication that majority of workers still did not understand the new pay policy; “FWSC must roll-out comprehensive public education on the SSSS”.

The GMA on Monday, April 8, began a partial withdrawal of their services to protest against delays on the part of labour authorities to resolve issues on the migration of doctors onto the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS).

However, the National Labour Commission (NLC) has directed the doctors to discontinue the action.

In spite of the intervention by the NLC, some doctors in some public hospitals withdrew part of their services, while others ignored the calls by the GMA to begin a partial withdrawal of their services.

Source: GNA

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