Patients at the Regional Hospital in Bolgatanga are currently depending on private laboratories to run various laboratory investigations owing to the ongoing strike action by members of the Ghana Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists (GAMLS).
Mr Zakariah Yakubu, the Head of Administration at the Regional Hospital, in an interview with the GNA, confirmed that the facility’s laboratory was locked and described the situation as ‘pathetic.’
Ironically, many of the laboratories in the Bolgatanga Township are owned and run by the same GAMLS members who are claiming better conditions of service and discrepancies in their salaries.
The striking workers claim that the discrepancies has existed for about six years and it occurred after the introduction of the Single Spine Pay Policy.
When the Ghana News Agency visited some public facilities as part of its coverage of the strike action by the members of the GAMLS, it observed that laboratories in the visited facilities were all closed down.
Mr Yakubu said the biggest consumers of blood and blood products were mostly children and pregnant women, and said they were the most hit in the strike action, as most of them come as emergencies at night.
He said quality care to patients at night may be compromised, especially in situations where urgent blood transfusions would be required, ‘private laboratories would work during the day and some portions of the night, emergencies usually will come from night onwards and so the prescriber wants to have some diagnostic investigations to help in diagnoses. And at that time, the private person may not be available.’
Mr Yakubu said many private laboratories do not have blood banks adding that this could be dangerous to patients who would need urgent blood transfusion.
He appealed to government to resume negotiation with members of the GAMLS, to enable them return to work.
‘We those around these parts of the country are the most hit, it could be anybody’s life, those who are on the strike should also attach some human face to the strike action, it could be your relative, it could be your friend who would need your service at this critical moment.’
Some doctors at the regional hospital, who spoke to the GNA on conditions of anonymity, said that the action has affected service delivery because some results from private laboratories were questionable and unreliable.
At the Bawku West District hospital, the story is not too different as patients are referred to private laboratories to run diagnosis before seeing a prescriber.
Mr Jeremiah Amafo, Head of the Bongo District Hospital Laboratory, who spoke to the GNA confirmed the strike action adding that he received a directive on Sunday to direct his staff to lay down their tools by not offering any services.
He said the absence of diagnosis from the laboratory would mean physicians assistants and doctors were most likely to rely on a try-and-error examination to provide services to their patients.