Some four thousand Ghanaian nurses have left the country in the last three years, the Director General of Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, has said.
According to him, these nurses travel abroad because of the attractive pay, which the Ghanaian government is unable to give.
This development, he stressed, is depriving the nation of experienced nurses to work in the various hospitals across the country.
The DG appeared before Parliament’s Public Accountants Committee (PAC) on Tuesday, January 30, 2024 to respond to queries about the GHS contained in the 2022 report of the Auditor-General.
“At the last time we met, in the last three years, Ghana Health Service has lost about four thousand such nurses across the country. But the inflow has slowed.
“And as I’ve said, the amount of money that is attracting them, if we can pay the same, we will keep them,” he said.
Dr. Kuma-Aboagye was responding to a question from a member of the PAC, Bawa Braimah, representing Ejura-Sekyedumase.
The MP asked the question of the brain drain as a follow-up to unearned salaries by staff of the Bompata Government Hospital, captured at paragraph 327 of the 2022 auditor general’s report.
Two staff members had earned salaries that they were not supposed to. One had made a refund, but there was an outstanding of GH₡71,227 and the recommendation was for the amount to be recovered with interest at the prevailing bank rate.
The MP asked for the status of that infraction, which the DG of the GHS said was about GH₡8,330 but added that “it is the same [issue of] people who just packed their bags and went to the UK as part of the brain drains.
“So, chair, that is part of the fallout of the brain drain. I am sure we might see some in next year’s report.”
The Ejura-Sekyedumase legislator at this point expressed concern over the issue, arguing that Ghana may lack nurses to take care of patients in the near future. “So, what plans are you putting in place to ensure that this brain drain is curtailed?” he asked the DG.
In his response, Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye said “So, what we are doing now is, we are losing very experienced nurses, and so we have had to increase our study leave so that they can be replaced, because there is very little one can do to stop them.”
He continued, “But we can see now that since the place is getting full, the numbers have significantly reduced. We are trying to recover by upgrading some of those who are here to be able to replace them.”
The DG told the committee that, in the same three years, about 30,000 nurses have been recruited, adding that the brain drain is not affecting the country in numbers but in experience.
The Chairman of the PAC, James Klutse-Avedzi, observed from yesterday’s sitting that most of the public health institutions breach the procurement laws.
According to him, these institutions go contrary to Section 20 of the Public Procurement (Amendment) Act, despite recommendations from the Auditor-General in every annual report to desist from such practices.
The Committee invited the Ministry of Health, led by the Director General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, to answer a number of queries cited against the agencies and hospitals under the Ministry.
The most common infractions cited in the Auditor-General’s Report 2022 include non-payment of rent, non-competitive procurement, payment of unearned salaries, hire and purchase of vehicles, and unsupported payments.
Some of the clinics and institutions that were cited in the report for uncompetitive procurement include – Castle Clinic; Nurses Training College, Pantang; Princess Marie Louise Children Hospital; Accra Psychiatric Hospital and National Blood Service, among others.
The Director General of the Ghana Health Service was also advised by members of the Committee to recruit more procurement officers to help in procuring items for the various agencies by complying with the laws.