The Health Minister, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, has reiterated the need for health professionals to attach a sense of urgency towards the handling of emergency cases.
He said regardless of the resources available, once a patient is rushed to a health facility for emergency care, the staff must do all they can to provide professional care.
Mr Agyemang-Manu was speaking on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Monday where he also said it was wrong for health professionals to turn patients away.
“When we talk about emergency it must be treated as such. Whether there are beds, whether there are no resources or whatever it is like. You can’t sit down and look at your brother to die,” he lamented.
The Minister’s comment is in relation to the recent no-bed syndrome in health facilities which has resulted in patient deaths.
The most recent death that sparked national outrage is the death of a 70-year-old man who died after he was turned away by seven hospitals over a lack of bed to admit him.
His son, Ishmael Opoku, who was with him throughout the 1 hour 48 minutes (49.35km) journey described his father’s condition at the time as an emergency, one characterised by headache and dizziness.
Anthony Opoku Acheampong died after many attempts to seek treatment at some seven hospitals failed.
But none of the hospitals they visited administered even first aid until he died at the seventh, LEKMA.
This situation, the Minister says is unfortunate and cannot be allowed to persist.
He cited an instance where in France, “at an A&E [accidents and emergency] centre at the Charles de Gaulle hospital, there were patients sitting in chairs like we are sitting here taking blood infusion.”
“That was an emergency and I don’t see why when there is an emergency and somebody should be turned away.”
To ensure nothing of that nature occurs again, the Minister said a committee has been set to investigate circumstances surrounding the 70-year-old man’s death.
All the other hospitals he encountered on that day will also be investigated, the Minister revealed, as a committee has been constituted by the Ghana Health Service for that purpose.
While he waits for a report from the committee, Mr. Agyemang-Manu said the Ghana Health Service’s emergency toll-free call is being expanded to take feedback from the public on how they are treated at health facilities.
“The minister and his deputy and even the chief director at the ministry cannot be everywhere all the time and since we have massive amounts of points and stations where we treat people, it will be very challenging for us to think that we can monitor and supervise all of them at the same time.
“So when we get a window through which patients and the public can talk to us, we might be solving some particular problem,” he added.