Kwame Sherrif Awiagah, The Author

I am sad, yes I am sad. I am sad because a life (lives for that matter) has been lost to lack of hospital bed in seven hospitals at the heart of the capital. I am sad because the media is failing to ask the right questions, I am sad because the media is failing to demand explanations from the very people who have answers to the questions begging for answers. I am sad because clinical staffs (nurses and doctors) are been constantly sent to the slaughter house for verbal and emotional assault. I am sad for my people, my colleagues and my country.

The NO BED SYNDROME (as I prefer to describe the endemic

problem) has been in existence for very long time, it is my intuition that some lives might have been lost for this very reason. In all this situations, nurses and doctors have been taken to the cleaners propagated by the media houses expected to know better. Most of the media reported cases have always been one sided stories, narrated by the affected families.

The problem is gaining root in our society and it is thus important we evoke the powers that be to avert the situation. Sick people deserve to receive medical care and more so to die peacefully and honorably when death becomes eminent.

It is time the public understand that always putting the blames on the clinical staffs (doctors and nurses) amount to loss of focus and does not evoke progress.

Our referral hospitals are very well choked sometimes with cases that could otherwise be managed by the lower level facilities. As responsible citizens let’s start discussions on problem solving instead of verbal assault on staffs that leads to nothing but a shield of the actual cause of this endemic canker. Let’s talk about:

Enforcing the Referral Framework. We can decongest our referral centers by enforcing the referral system frame which requires that a Health Centre or Clinic should refer to the Polyclinic/District/Municipal Hospital (or a hospital of same level) then to Regional then to the Teaching Hospitals except in some few instances. If we can enforce the framework, we can reduce needless referrals going to the final referral unit, we can coordinate proper referral system to the advantage of the patients, relatives and the overall health system. We shall avoid or altogether eliminate the congestion of the three main referral units in the capital of Accra.

Most clinics in Accra operate only day time and so for example when a patient requires detention for medical observation for cases like Uncomplicated malaria, hypertension, high blood sugar in known diabetes, they are simply referred straight to SME, 37 Military Hospital or Ridge when there is a nearby Private Facility running a 24hr service and could perfectly manage such cases. Let us apply practical means to lessen the burden of patients and their relatives on referral.

Strengthen the capacities of both human and material resources at all levels of the health care system including ensuring that same is applied in the privately owned health Facilities. One very intelligent and well respected Doctor once told me that, most of the time when he referred a patient, it wasn’t because the patient’s condition was beyond his hospital’s capability but because he lacked experienced nursing and diagnostic human resources. Most referrals comes as result of similar scenarios and so when we are able to stock our health facilities with the needed resources including professionals, we can eliminate this challenge to some extent. Polyclinics may not have to refer minor surgical cases if they have resident surgeons and well stocked surgical theatres.

Why observe patients die for lack of beds when there are international standard hospitals including GPHA, Bank of Ghana, UGMC, Lekma, Ofankor, Police, etc hospitals perishing? Let us redirect our rage towards people entrusted with the power to make this facilities operational instead of verbal attacks on the innocent nurse/doctor.

A well-resourced nationwide ambulance service system can be very much helpful when a patient needs an immediate attention in the wake of lack of bed.

When you come in through an ambulance, you provide the service providers an opportunity to avert immediate threat to life. It is true that in some cases when you present a patient to the referral unit with an ambulance, the ambulance stretcher will likely be used to save a life until a bed becomes available to you for your continuous care and monitoring.

However, most of the time the ambulance drivers/paramedics refuse to leave out their stretchers because they might have been called to serve another client due to inadequate ambulances in the country. A patient brought in through a taxi or private car would most likely face challenges when there is a need to be resuscitated.

Finally patients and their relatives should tame their egos when they attend health facilities to reduce some unnecessary referrals.

You have a right to choose your care giver but our resources hardly make this possible without creating inconvenience to another patient needing specialist or emergency services.

Our health staffs deserve better
Awiagah Sherrif Kwame
Public Health Advocate

About Kwame Sherrif | Columnist

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