GHANA: Doctor wants probe of hospital – alleges avoidable deaths

A doctor at the Central Regional Hospital in Cape Coast has called for a probe into the affairs of the hospital, alleging gross mismanagement and autocratic ways of dealing with staff.

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In addition, he has sued the hospital authorities seeking to expunge from his personal file, a letter of suspension and an undertaking he was made to write, describing the two disciplinary measures as ill-motivated.

Dr. Bernard Okoe Boye, who is doing his housemanship at the hospital, in a five-page letter dated December 8, this year, said many patient had died in his hands because the hospital authorities failed to provide the needed logistics.

Other patients had also died because specialists who should have been present in attending to the patients had left the hospital as a result of insensitive and intolerant traits of administration, he alleged.

Dr. Boye, who is serving a two-week suspension for insubordination said the hospital management sacked a staff but subsequent revelations made by the staff member about the operations of the pharmacy department showed a lot of irregularities which is currently under investigation by the serious fraud office.

He said as a result of the divergent opinion he brought to bear on issues in the hospital, the management led by the medical director, Dr. Kofi Sabeng, began to show hostility towards him and other doctors who wanted to see changes in certain aspects of the hospital’s day-to-day business.

“This is a hospital management that constantly and consistently engages in acts to force and frustrate its staff in submission all in the name of enforcing the code of ethics of Ghana Health Service,” he said.

Dr. Boye said because of management’s high handedness in dealing with staff, as many as 14 doctors had left the hospital.

These include Dr. Kojo Prah, Dr. Sheineff (a Bulgarian), Dr. Madison Adanusa, Dr. Ato Brown, Dr. Manna,  Dr. Kwame Acheampong, Dr. Richard Ameti and Dr. Kemi Olawaiyo.

Others are Dr. Vega (a Cuban), Dr. Dampson, Dr. Vincent Kudoh, Dr. Kofi Blankson, Dr. Deekye Kwarteng and Dr. Cudjoe.

He said he was aware that another eight doctors had made plans of leaving in the next six months to other places where they would be more appreciated and their opinions respected.

Dr. Boye, who has a year left to complete his housemanship in the hospital said he had also decided not to remain “but before I leave, I find it fair to the people of this region to let the world know the harm that is being brought on their heads by the actions of the medical director.”

He said he had evidence to implicate management’s wrong doings but will make it public only upon request.

Reacting to Dr. Boye’s allegations, Dr. Sabeng said he was suspended because he left his post without notice even though he was aware that it was mandatory for every house officer to do emergency duties.

He said it was general knowledge that indiscipline was creeping into the general behavior of health staff, therefore, the Ghana Health Service declared this year as a year for attitudinal change.

“Even though doctors are not God, they hold the key to people’s lives. An indiscipline doctor is therefore, a danger to society because people can die through his or her negligence and it is society who (that) suffers.”

Dr. Sabeng stressed the need for society to lend their support to instill discipline in the profession which holds the key to people’s lives.

Dr. Sabeng said Dr. Boye was verbally cautioned for a similar misconduct in the past, and when he repeated the offence, the clinical service coordinator was asked to give him a query.

He said it took ten days for Dr. Boye to answer the query, having been prevailed upon by colleagues.

“Even then the letter was not appropriately addressed and lacked remorse; hence, his suspension to serve as deterrent to others.”

Dr. Sabeng said because of the need for more doctors there was the wrong notion that wayward doctors could not be sanctioned but added that the GHS code of conduct and disciplinary procedures is clear on the matter.

He said Dr. Boye was welcome back to the hospital to complete his housemanship after serving his suspension if he so wished.

Giving reasons for the departure of the doctors, Dr. Sabeng said the hospital was a training centre, “so people come here to do rotation or complete their housemanship here.”

He said the majority of the doctors who completed their housemanship in the hospital had been posted either to the district or the metropolitan hospitals in the region.

Dr. Sabeng said four of the doctors mentioned became married couples during their housemanship therefore, they moved together to other stations after their housemanship.

In the case of the expatriates, he said Dr. Vega was recalled by the head of the Cuban Brigade in Ghana to fill a vacancy at St. Thomas Hospital in Koforidua while Dr. Sheineff, who was on contract with the GHS did not renew the contract and went back home.

He said Dr. Prah, Dr. Adanusa, and Dr. Ato Brown moved to the Cape Coast University in search of better conditions of service adding, “since most of the doctors who left the Central Regional Hospital are in the region where lies the truth that the region is being deprived of doctors?”

In an interaction with the Times some of the hospital staff said management was on the right track in trying to enforce discipline.

They, however, said since they were not privy to the contents of the letter written by Dr. Boye they were not in a position to make any comments.

Ghanaian Times