A group calling itself the Coalition of Unemployed Nurses took to the streets of Accra yesterday to protest against the delay in posting them to health facilities.
Made up of mainly state registered nurses and midwives who graduated from public nursing training colleges in March 2014 and completed national service in August 2015, the group started their street agitation at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle early in the morning.
Attired in their uniforms and wearing red armbands, the nurses carried placards that conveyed their grievances in messages such as: “We need our financial clearance now. No delay”, “A hungry nurse is a potential killer”, “We are tired of staying home” and “Evidence-based nurses and midwives demonstration”.
Before they set off on their march, a dozen of them knelt down to pray to God to intervene in their plight and touch the hearts of government officials to work on their posting.
The group, in a petition addressed to the Office of the President, said the coalition was made up of 2,241 bonded registered nurses, registered midwives and registered psychiatric nurses who, since completing their national service in August 2015, had not been posted as demanded by the bond.
The petition, jointly signed by its President, Mr Adam Masahudu, and the Secretary, Mr Isaac Dordaa, demanded that “all members must be given financial clearance and the list posted at all regional health directorates for immediate recruitment”.
It also asked for the posting of all members in May 2016.
The protesters insisted that their appointment letters be back-dated to September 2015, contending that they must be paid for the time lost.
Ghana, in 2005, banned newly qualified nurses from travelling abroad to work, ostensibly to reduce the increasing number of nurses who were leaving the country to work abroad, at the expense of taxpayers who funded their training.
In pursuance of that objective, fresh graduates were bonded to serve the country for a period of four years (in the case of certificate nurses) and five years for diploma nurses and midwives.
Additionally, registered nurses and midwives had to do one year national service.
That policy created a situation where hundreds of nurses could not be employed in the public sector. It was, however, scrapped last year.
“We have fulfilled our part of the contract but the government is not willing to fulfill its obligation. We have sent countless petitions to the Ministry of Health but they have yielded no results,” an angry nurse who gave his name only as Daniel said.
According to statistics provided by the Ministry of Health, the number of nurses leaving the country had reduced drastically from almost 800 in 2007 to about 300 in the last three years.