Dr Emmanuel Kofi Dzotsi, the Upper East Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has called for salaries of newly posted doctors to be decentralized to check their refusal to accept postings to the Region.
He suggested that if salaries of newly trained doctors were channelled to the Regions, they would be compelled to accept postings to where their services were most needed.
“For instance, if doctors are posted here, and they are not able to come, we can redirect their salaries to the Region so that when they come, then we pay. We should not encourage them to have access to work in other places,” he said.
Dr Dzotsi said this when he shared his view, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), on measures to ensure doctors posted to the Region reported and stayed to deliver their services.
The suggestion by the Director was on the backdrop of 10 doctors who refused to accept postings to the Region in 2021.
He noted that even though the suggestion would compel doctors to report to their posted Regions, there must be proper negotiation, “So that it doesn’t become a punitive measure, that will deter them.”
He suggested that newly posted doctors could be made to understand that their salaries would be in the region they would be posted to, and they would be entitled to certain incentive packages including promotion after three years, the offer of a study leave to specialise, and furnished accommodation, among others.
Dr Dzotsi said authorities at the national level could enforce the initiative, insisting that, “We should not give the leeway for them to have another alternative to leave the region. We need the populace in this region to be served.”
When the GNA visited the Regional Hospital in Bolgatanga, which is the major referral centre, to ascertain the number of doctors in the facility, the Acting Medical Director, Dr Aiden Suntaa Saanwie, said the facility had 11 doctors instead of the ideal number of 40 medical doctors to operate optimally.
He said as a referral centre which should have a minimum of 27 Specialists, the Hospital was managed by only five, adding that, “Even with this five, we have just two Gynaecologists, one joined recently, until then, it was only one Gynaecologist.”
He said the few doctors were stressed out, and that affected the quality of service delivery in the facility, “We are human beings, if we have to run night shift and continue during the day, you can imagine the impact it will have on us.”
Dr Saanwie said as part of initiatives to attract and retain doctors, the Hospital provided accommodation for all of its doctors, paid utility bills, filled Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) for them, “In addition, we have doctors incentive package. For Medical Officers, we peg at GH¢1,500 and for Specialist it is at GH¢3000.00.”
He said despite the incentive packages, doctors still refused postings to the region, and even doctors from the northern part of the country used social pressures as excuse not to serve their people.
On initiatives by the region to attract doctors, Mr Stephen Yakubu, the Regional Minister, told the GNA that his Office managed to stop the salaries of the 10 Doctors who refused to report and work in the region.
He said some of them reported after the action, but along the line, they left. “So, at the end of the day, none of them actually stayed and worked.”
Mr Yakubu said the Clement Kubindiwo Tedam University of Technology and Applied Sciences (CKT-UTAS) would soon start a Medicine Programme, and charged the Municipal and District Chief Executives to identify and sponsor brilliant students in their respective areas to study medicine, and ensure they were bonded to stay and work after their training.