The Speaker of Parliament has tasked parliamentarians to formulate a new law that will make it criminal for health personnel to turn away patients over lack of beds.
“No medical person shall refuse to attend to a person in an emergency situation, Prof Mike Ocquaye said on a day when Members of Parliament were vehement in their condemnation of the “no bed syndrome” a popular refrain by health personnel.
“It should be made a crime,” the Speaker added and charged the Health Committee of Parliament to quickly look into the matter and come out with a new law even if it is by a private member’s motion.
The crusade against the “no bed syndrome” comes days after a 70-year-old man died at the Lekma hospital in Teshie after he was refused admission to seven other public health facilities.
Anthony Opoku Acheampong died in his car after he was rejected by all the hospitals, his son, Ishmael Opoku is reported to have said.
According to him, not even one of the hospitals gave his late father first aid, the most basic requirement for an emergency case.
The death of the 70-year-old has triggered a campaign for a revolution of the country’s health care delivery with members of Parliament leading it.
One after the other, the MPs raised concerns on the floor with one of them describing the “no bed issue as a national security matter.”
Deputy Attorney General Mr Joseph Kpenka described the no bed excuse by hospitals as “real and not cosmetic.”
His wife died in 2016 under similar circumstances having driven her to a number of public health facilities in the capital.
Narrating the incident, Mr Kpenka said all major health facilities in the capital he drove his sick wife to - Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, 37 Military Hospital, Nyaho Medical Centre, The Trust Hospital and finally to the ultramodern Ridge Hospital - all refused to admit and administer treatment to the patient because “there was no bed”.
The Director-General of the GHS, Dr Nsiah Asare, has caused an investigation into the circumstances under which the 70-year-old died.
“I think it shouldn’t have happened. All hospitals in this country are acute hospitals and acute hospital means that emergency is an emergency; so I’ve called the Regional Director of Health Services to find out what happened and all the various hospitals which were involved to give us an account of it…and ensure that this does not happen again,” he told Accra-based Class FM.
Even before the health service will complete its investigation, the Speaker said the laws must be enhanced to address the challenge.
“There are too many gaps in our laws,” he said, “if anyone visits a doctor with a burn; the doctor is bound by law to report the matter to police.”
There has to be “specific laws on specific mischiefs,” he stated, adding “we must criminalize these areas.”
The Chairman of the Health Committee of Parliament Twum Nuamah told Joy News they have been asked to “investigate the phenomenon” of no bed syndrome.
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