Home News Ghana’s Physician Assistants withdraws all services today – GPAA

Ghana’s Physician Assistants withdraws all services today – GPAA

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This press engagement aims to express our strong opposition to the Health Professions and Regulatory Bodies (Amendment) Bill 2023, which is being forwarded to Parliament through the Ministry of Health by the Medical and Dental Council (MDC). This bill threatens to undermine our profession by diminishing our responsibilities, enforcing medical doctors upon us, and obstructing our growth and development.

On June 6, 2023, media reports indicated that the Rt. Hon. Speaker called Members of Parliament back to the House to discuss several bills, including the Health Professions and Regulatory Bodies Amendment Bill, 2023. Despite our attempts, we were unable to obtain a copy of the Amendment Bill.

Subsequently, on July 6, 2023, the leadership of GPAA held a meeting with the Ministry of Health to address various concerns regarding Physician Assistants, including matters related to our practice’s regulation under the Medical and Dental Council and the proposed amendment to the Health Professions and Regulatory Bodies Act, 2013 (Act 857). The Minister assured us that nothing had been confirmed yet and pledged to engage with us to address our concerns.

However, despite these assurances, we recently intercepted the purported Amendment Bill, which, if passed, will have disastrous consequences for the health service delivery system, particularly in rural and impoverished communities. The MDC aims to curtail the rights of Physician Assistants to practice medicine and dentistry, as well as prescribe medicine, subjecting us to the supervision of medical and dental practitioners.

This proposed amendment seeks to overturn an established practice where Physician Assistants can independently assess clients, request laboratory investigations, make diagnoses, and prescribe necessary medicines without constant supervision. We already have a supervisory model in place, with senior Physician Assistants capable of providing oversight.

Additionally, the amendment intends to prevent us from signing medical forms, a task that is currently within our scope of work. For these reasons, we vehemently disagree with the proposed amendments and call for an urgent assembly with the MDC, (GHS), and the MoH to halt this attempt.

The leadership of the Ghana Physician Assistants’ Association (GPAA) wishes to communicate to all Ghanaians our tentative roadmap leading to a nationwide industrial strike by Physician Assistants (PAs) to protest against the actions of the Medical and Dental Council (MDC) and other agencies under the Ministry of Health, which undermine our practice in Ghana.

As clinicians primarily serving at the primary healthcare level, especially in rural and impoverished communities, we consider ourselves to be the foundation of primary healthcare and the initial point of contact for underprivileged patients. Our opposition to this amendment bill is just one of many unsettled issues we have with the healthcare management in this country. Some of the other concerns include:

1. The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) revoking the credentialing of Private Health Centres manned by PAs while public health facilities retain their licenses.

2. Over 2,500 newly qualified PAs being unemployed for four years, despite the urgent need for clinicians in district and sub-district health facilities.

3. Non-recognition and lack of remuneration for PA Dermatologists and Psychiatrists, despite their training under the Ministry of Health institutions over the past decade.

4. The Ghana Health Service has declined to formally appoint and compensate Physician Assistants as Sub-district heads within the Sub-District Health Management System.

5. The unilateral development and launch of a Scope of Practice document for PAs by the MDC in 2022, attempting to reduce our scope of work and autonomy.

6. Physician Assistants on Internship not receiving internship allowances while their nursing and medical counterparts do.

We have engaged the MDC, GHS, and the Ministry of Health multiple times to address these issues, but no satisfactory solutions have been reached. We strongly advocate for the establishment of a new health regulatory body to oversee the training and practice of Physician Assistants in Ghana, as is the case in Kenya and some states in America.

We hereby give notice that if our concerns are not resolved, we intend to commence an industrial action with the following schedule:

1. Withdrawal of OPD Services: Monday, July 24, 2023, to Wednesday, July 26, 2023.

2. Withdrawal of Emergency Services: Thursday, July 27, 2023, to Monday, July 31, 2023.

3. Withdrawal of all services: Tuesday, August 1, 2023.

Source: Ghana’s Physician Assistants Association

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