Physician assistant interns in the country have threatened to embark on a strike if they are not put on the payroll for the job they do at the various health facilities across the country.
They said the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service had neglected them.
According to them, unlike their counterpart intern pharmacists and doctors, physician assistant interns posted to the various public facilities in the country do not receive any pay for their services. They described the situation as discriminatory and in contravention of the labour law.
The President of the Graduate Physician Associates of Ghana, the umbrella body for physician interns, Anthony Asare Arkoh, speaking to Class News, noted that several petitions for their members to be placed on a pay structure have fallen on deaf ears.
“Assistant interns do not have any proper salary structure during the one-year mandatory internship and that is very sad. It’s like a ghostly existence of the physician assistant, yet we form the bulk of the workforce contributing to the reduction of the increased clinical workload on rather insufficient medical staff,” he stated.
“Physician assistants undertake various forms of medical procedures and clinical workload and contribute effectively to healthcare delivery. Yet, like our forefathers have been neglected, so the interns have been neglected.
“You cannot post interns, mandate them, put them on call duties, night duties to at any moment undertake, admit patients, follow on cases, discharge cases and then refer cases appropriately and not pay them. You put the Ghanaian service user at risk because such an unpaid intern who sits as a medical professional in a consulting room to take care of the sick is actually doing that with a bitter heart.”
He said if ongoing arbitration by the Labour Commission fails to yield something positive, they will be forced to take legal action or embark on an industrial strike.
“We are working with a law. The Labour Act is for every citizen, we have come together to form this association because of some of these intentional neglects. It is inhumane. The next is industrial [action] or probably legal action,” he noted.