Management of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital has been asked to discharge more than 200 patients on admission at the facility following the strike action by the nurses.
Chairman of the Mental Health Authority Dr. Akwesi Osei made this known after meeting with the aggrieved nurses on [Monday, October 31 in a move to persuade them to return to work.
He believes the move to discharge some of the patients will ease pressure on the few workers available at the facility.
Emmanuel Febiri, a nurse and a member of the hospital’s communication team told Pulse.com.gh that even though the move is not ideal, management has no option than to oblige.
He said: “Some of the wards have been closed down. In a ward where you have five or ten patients, they have asked them to join colleagues at other wards,” adding that “Heads assistants who are not nurses can be in those wards.”
READ ALSO: Psychiatric nurses strike
“We have about 400 to 500 patients. So it means if you reduce some and take them home, the number will come down. So at least the few staff who move around can help them in a way,” he added.
His fear, however, is that many of the patients who would be released might not have recovered fully and could cause a threat to their family and society as a whole.
Role of the Nurses at the hospital
The striking nurses, numbering over 190, account for about 70 percent of the workforce at the hospital, as they do the greater part of the work.
Their daily work routine include the personal care and hygiene of the patients.
On a daily basis, the striking nurses bath the patients, shave their armpits and pubic hairs, trim their nails, feed them, and give them their medication, activities senior nurses hardly perform.
Emmanuel Febiri said he fears for the patients because the Heads Assistants currently taking care of them cannot do all the work.
Nurses at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital have declared an indefinite strike effective Monday, October 31 following what they call government’s failure to provide the facility with the basic logistics needed to carry out their work effectively.
According to the nurses, attempts to get a lasting solution to their problems have proved futile.
READ ALSO: OPD shutdown ; MoH blames management
In a statement released on Sunday, October 30, 2016, Chairperson of the Nurses, Jamila Hussein said: “Effective Monday 31st October, 2016, no nurse will subject him/herself to the danger posed by the workplace until such a time where we have reasonable cause to believe that the place is made safe.”
This is not the first time nurses at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital have embarked on a strike.
In 2015, nurses at the facility embarked on an indefinite strike over unpaid salaries, but later called it off following government's intervention.
The hospital, last month, also shut down its OPD due to financial constraints. It however reopened it following intervention by the Mental Health Authority.
Below is the full statement from the Nurses:
STAYING AWAY FROM DANGEROUS WORKING ENVIRONMENT
Following several fruitless attempts by the leadership of the nurses to get lasting solution to the problems that has persisted for years, exposing patients and staff to high risk of infection, and which has become major source of aggression towards staff and other patients, we have been compelled to put our safety above all topics.
1. As a result of the shortage of the essential medications required for psychiatric management, most patients have relapsed and many of them demonstrate serious aggressive behaviours towards staff and other patients. These physical assaults have resulted in varying degrees of injuries and disabilities spreading fear and panic among the staff and even the patients, to the extent that the focus now is on staff protection rather than patients care.
2.If staff sustains injuries in the line of duty, he/she takes responsibility of the medical bills, as we have NO form of insurance policy nor risk allowance to cover the bills.
3. There is massive shortage of basic logistics needed to carry out our professional duties such as gloves, spirit, dressing solutions, facemasks, plaster,sterile cotton and gauze, detergents among others. This exposes the staff and patients to unnecessary, not only that, but human-created risk of cross-infections
4. The food for psychiatric patient is woefully inadequate and deficient in quality creating source of aggressive behaviours.
5. In some instances staff offer financial assistance to meet certain urgent needs of patients
It is worth noticing , that the safety of the workers, especially in the psychiatric setting is non-negotiable.
Effective Monday 31st October, 2016, no nurse will subject him/herself to the danger posed by the workplace until such a time where we have reasonable cause to believe that the place is made safe.