50% salary bonus: Naked robbery in health sector – Real beneficiaries side-lined
The announcement by President Akufo-Addo that all frontline health workers in the country would receive an additional allowance of 50 percent of their basic salary per month for four months – March, April, May, and June – has reportedly resulted in fraudulent names being submitted to the government as beneficiaries of the scheme.
Intelligence picked up by The Chronicle indicates that people who do not fall under the category of frontline workers have found their names on the list as beneficiaries of the scheme, which is meant to motivate the health workers who are risking their lives to help the government fight the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
At the St Theresa’s Hospital at Nkoranza, in the Bono East Region, for instance, The Chronicle understands the names submitted to the Ministry of Health as frontline workers are fraught with fraud.
Some of the names, our sources alleged, are not frontline workers and ought not to have been submitted to the government to benefit from the 50% pay raise for four months.
Some concerned workers and nurses of the hospital, who are not happy with the fraudulent list, have already sent a strong petition to the Chief of Staff at the Presidency, Madam Akosua Frema Osei Opare and copied the Catholic Health Association of Ghana (CHAG), drawing their attention to the issue and the need to reject the list.
The petition, dated May 2, 2020, under the headline ‘Report on FAKE Names used as Frontline Health workers submitted for claims,’ the concerned nurses wrote, “With respect to the government request to hospitals to submit names of front liners assisting the fight against COVID-19 pandemic, we the concerned nurses of the hospital wish to report with great concern to your outfit of fake names submitted as front liners, and the grounds are as follows – All management members have submitted their names, leaving out some nurses who are actually at the forefront of the crusade against the pandemic.”
The concerned nurses argued that though some of their management staff, per the definition of frontline health workers by the government and also by the Christian Health Association, do not qualify for the incentive package, they have still submitted their names as members of the frontline workers.
‘We respectfully crave for your indulgence to carry out full investigations and audit into the list submitted from the hospital, and all hospitals across the country, to avoid wasteful payment and ensure discipline and commitment to augment government’s great and dynamic efforts in leading the crusade against Covid-19.
“We are aware of the government determination in waging war against corruption to ensure open and transparent governance, and we are ready to assist in all regards,” the nurses wrote in their petition.
Meanwhile, the Administrator of St. Theresa’s Hospital, Mr. Francis Tawiah, has denied that the names submitted to the government as frontline workers were fake.
Speaking in a telephone interview with The Chronicle, Mr Francis Tawiah confirmed submitting the list of 40 frontline health workers, but fell short of sharing the names with this reporter.
Mr. Tawiah would also not answer whether or not his name, as an administrator of the hospital, was on the list as a frontline health worker in the fight against the COVID-19.
I cannot share with you the list as submitted,” he said.
Mr Tawiah also denied knowledge that some nurses at the hospital had raised eyebrows over the list of names submitted as frontline health workers by management.
“I am not in the know about nurses kicking against our list. I will be glad if you can share their letter with me,” he told The Chronicle.
The Matron of the hospital, Blandina Dery, on her part, confirmed that management had identified and selected health workers who qualify as frontline health workers in the fight against COVID-19, but could not tell the names on the list.
Admitting she was part of the selection process, the Matron told this reporter in a separate interview that she could not name the beneficiaries and their positions.
“I am sure when you speak to the Administrator, he will be able to give you the list,” she suggested.
Meanwhile, the Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG), in a letter addressed to hospitals that fall under CHAG in the Bono, Ahafo and Bono East regions, cautioned their members against submission of names that do not qualify as frontline health workers.
The letter, dated April 18, 2020, and signed by Dr. James Duah, Deputy Executive Director for CHAG, reads: We have analysed all the lists submitted from the various facilities, and our observations are that many facilities have submitted the entire list of their employees on the government payroll, which defeats the purpose of the exercise. We, accordingly, request all facilities to review and resubmit their list to the CHAG Secretariat.
The list should cover the following team departments: Rapid response team heads of department and core staff responsible for coordination, supervision and responding to the COVID 10 activities, staff responsible for screening and trianing at OPD, prescribers at post,
records department staff who have contacts with clients, revenue collectors, laboratory staff at post, staff at emergency units, midwives at NC and delivery suites, mortuary staff, security men on duty.