Ghana doctors stop emergency services in strike over conditions

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Empty benches
Image caption,
Waiting rooms at hospital have been empty for more than a week

Doctors in Ghana have stopped providing emergency services in a strike over their conditions of service.

For more than a week, out patient services at state-run hospitals have been closed because of the dispute.

The government says it has put in place plans for urgent cases, including bringing in private doctors.

The BBC's Sammy Darko in Ghana says hospital managers, who are also doctors, have also been told to deal with emergencies.

Patients currently in hospitals are being treated by doctors but new ones are being turned away, he says.

Media caption,

Emergency services are now suspended in Ghana following a long standing dispute

Doctors have threatened to discharge all patients and resign en masse if the dispute is not resolved by 13 August.

'Greedy' row

Our correspondent says the battle between doctors and the communication team for the governing NDC party has been playing out on social media.

Amongst the insults have been salary comparisons - although the doctors are not demanding an increase in their monthly pay.

A senior doctor gets paid about $920 (£593) a month.

The striking doctors want free post-graduate medical education, better retirement packages and increases in clothing, fuel and maintenance allowances.

Other demands include a request for free overseas healthcare for services not available in Ghana and the right to import vehicles into the country free of duty.

Benjamin Essuman, a NDC spokesman, called the doctors "greedy" on his Facebook page.

Image source, Facebook
Image caption,
The doctors are demanding better allowances, not a salary increase

Dr Frank Serebour, the general secretary of the Ghana Medical Association, has said that supporters of the governing party's stance were being foolish.

Ghana's President John Mahama said on Wednesday that he would not be pressured to spend more than had been budgeted for the year.

All Ghanaians can have access free state healthcare if they register with The National Health Insurance Authority.

Government officials have advised people needing urgent medical attention during the strike to go to private clinics and show their health insurance cards.

It is not clear whether those who have done so have received free medical care.

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