Nurses worried about Heath Minister’s statement

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Accra, Sept. 18, GNA – The Ghana Registered Nurses Association (GRNA) on Tuesday expressed concern about a statement by the Minister of Health, Mr Alban Bagbin, which implied that pharmacists deserved better rewards than nurses.

     The association said Mr Bagbin’s statement, made on Radio XYZ, was bias and discriminatory against nurses and midwives.

      These are contained in a statement signed by Mr Kwaku Asante-Krobea, President of the GRNA, copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Tuesday.

     It said on September 6, 2012 among other things, the Minister said on Radio XYZ news that pharmacists had been placed at level 18 with nurses, and added that “pharmacist deserve better.”

     The statement said the communication put across by Mr Bagbin constituted discrimination against the ever conscientious nurses and midwives.

      The GRNA said this had also caused disquiet among its rank and file, and that the members were aggrieved because they felt insulted and denigrated.

     The statement said: “having consciously striven to support the health sector with strong commitment to care, whilst some health sector professionals embarked on strike actions… since the implementation of the SSSS, “nurses and midwives cannot take insults in return for our goodwill gesture.

      “We, therefore, unequivocally request the Minister to honourably withdraw his statement of claim, which by implication considers pharmacists as being valued higher than nurses and midwives and which also demeans our ranks,.

   “With the greatest respect, the association states categorically that nurses and midwives contribution form a great part to the attainment of the health-related Millennium Development Goals by virtue of our numbers and the multifaceted role we perform.

       “As we have communicated before, at least once in a forum of which the Mr Bagbin was our guest of honour, it was reiterated that nurses and midwives constitute the single largest group of health care professionals in any health care system reaching at least 68 per cent”.

     The statement said the entry of a graduate into the job market as nursing officers was made possible after a twelve-month supervised national service and the passing of a professional licensure examination conducted by the Nurses and Midwives Council of Ghana, all subsequent to the successful completion of a four-year Bachelor of Science Degree.

      It said in addition, a majority of nurses and midwives had attained diverse post-graduate specialization, including Paediatric, Peri-Operative, Ophthalmic, Oncology, Ear, Nose and Throat, Orthopaedic and Critical Care Nursing with a high turnout of Masters-prepared graduates.

       The statement said this is besides a good number who hold different doctorate degrees among other impressive attainment of academic status, whose training covers majority of areas of highly valued health professionals.

      It said: “nurses and midwives are a group of health professionals whose roles are extremely hazardous and yet putting up with the disfavour associated with it.   

      The statement said significantly 43 per cent of all ailments reported by this group of professionals are hospital-acquired.

     It said: “Out of this, 31 per cent are back trouble-related, 48 per cent of nurses and midwives in general wards and 33 per cent in oncology wards suffer from job place related back trouble,” among other illnesses that require sympathy and not maginalisation.

      The statement said: “surprisingly, more pressing issues that we hope would motivate the health sector workers generally and improve our conditions of service should engage our attention…….have been ignored, notably, the unlawful stoppage of the conversion difference component of the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) by the Fair Wages and Salary Commission (FWSC) and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MOFEP).

      “A join protest on this matter issued by the GRNA, the Ghana Medical Association and the Health Services Workers Union, seeking the intervention of the Minister has seen no action, and that this was an unfortunate development that would soon move the association to seek an alternative way to advance our interest“.

      The statement said nurses and midwives were the only health care professionals who were found at the remotest hard-to-reach areas of Ghana, taking up multi-faceted roles that would have been perform by other professionals.

     It said that since the implementation of the SSSS, nurses and midwives had been the only core health care professionals that had not embarked on any strike action not because “we are so satisfied with our placement on the structure and the amount of money which that translates into”.

       “The reasons were that we resolve to put the patient first, abhor the repercussions of the withdrawal of the services of nurses and midwives without just cause, respect the tenets of the labour Law, revere the collective oath of the International Council of Nurses, and the precious human lives and uphold the principle of exhausting all channels of negotiations before considering a strike action”.

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