GMA takes on Speaker, GHS over ‘No bed’ directives

Prof. Mike Oquaye, Speaker of Parliament

Some executives of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) are not happy with a “blanket” directive from the Speaker of Parliament to criminalise health professionals who turn patients away as a result of unavailability of beds.

According to two of the Association’s executives, the situation should not be looked at on the surface but in detail to stamp it out completely from the health sector.

On Tuesday, Speaker Professor Mike Aaron Oquaye expressed worry about the syndrome of patients losing their lives after being turned away from health facilities due to lack of beds.

He ordered a probe, particularly, into the circumstances that led to the death of Prince Anthony Opoku Acheampong after he lost his life, having been turned away at six hospitals due to the pretext of ‘No bed’.

He died on Saturday, June 2 at the LEKMA Hospital – the seventh facility he was sent to – after waiting hours to be admitted.

Speaker Oquaye ordered a joint committee comprising the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Health committees to probe the issue and report in two weeks.

But speaking on 3FM’s Midday News on Wednesday, Dr Frank Siriboe, the Vice President of GMA, said there is more to the problem than meets the eye.

He said resources must rather be made available to health professionals “so that this issue of ‘No bed’ syndrome is nipped in the bud”.

Dr Siriboe expressed happiness about the move to probe the issue, calling on the Health Committee to do a holistic review of the country’s health system.

Deputy General Secretary of GMA Dr Justice Yankson said it was wrong for a probe to be launched only based on a newspaper report.

He demanded that a full and detailed report should be sent to the offending facilities for review other than sending “a blanket statement that don’t send anybody away”.

Speaking on TV3’s Midday Live, Dr Yankson said health professionals particularly doctors have gone extra lengths to save the lives of many patients and must not be chastised as a result of the latest incident.

Already, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) is investigating the incident.

Director General Dr Anthony Nsiah Asare told Onua FM on Tuesday that “we are going to make sure that this thing will never happen in Ghana.”

“I will ensure that anybody who is in emergency, and goes for emergency treatment would be seen, that one I can assure you that.”

But Dr Yankson said even admitting patients on the floor in the absence of beds is an offence in the code of ethics of doctors.