The days of some nurses going as many as six months without pay could soon come to an end according to Minister of Health and Wellness Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic.
On Wednesday, Bostic revealed that during a recent estimates meeting with Prime Minister Mia Mottley, a decision was taken that would soon give permanent secretaries the authority to approve the payment of salaries for up to three months.
“Once the permanent secretary has the authority to pay up to three months or so, they have the flexibility to be able to say ‘yes this person worked last month’ and issue a cheque and make the payment,” Bostic explained.
He continued: “Currently, in situations where the permanent secretaries know that persons have done the work, they still don’t have the authority to make the payment. Once they are granted that authority, those issues will be alleviated in a large way,” he explained.
Mottley last year agreed to address the issue in her capacity as the minister responsible for the public sector.
Nevertheless, at the start of the year, the BNA President Joannah Waterman declared that the issue of late payments had become “untenable” and accused Government of continuing to violate the International Labour Organisation (ILO)’s conventions.
The problems have largely affected healthcare workers on temporary contracts who would often fall off of Government’s SmartStream financial software resulting in them not being paid.
Last week Waterman again expressed frustration at the sporadic salary payments. These concerns have intensified at a time when a cadre of nurses prepares to leave Ghana for Barbados as early as February.
“I welcome the news coming from the Prime Minister,” said Bostic.
“This is an initiative that she desires and I am certain that once this becomes a reality, we will not have many of those issues in health that we are having at the moment in terms of payment.”
The Health Minister promised that an even more permanent solution could be on the horizon as the Prime Minister would be working to appoint a number of longstanding healthcare workers in the coming months.
“The Prime Minister, in her capacity as the Minister responsible for the public service, gave the assurance that appointments would be made and it is not only nurses, but other areas of Government. I could tell you, that so far 90 nurses have been appointed at the Psychiatric Hospital and it is now for workers in the geriatric system and the polyclinics to be appointed,” revealed Bostic.
“So the process is starting and it’s not only nurses. We have a lot of environmental health officers who have not been appointed and others even in vector control and other areas. I am happy that the process has started in health and the appointment of those other nurses has created some hype for the others who are anxiously awaiting their turn.”