William Nlanjerbor Jalulah, Bolgatanga.
A MEDICAL Officer at the Upper East Regional Hospital in Bolgatanga, Dr. Amoo Acheampong is lacing his boots to drag his employer, the Ghana Health Service and his bank, the HFC Bank, to court for placing an embargo on his salary for the past three months.
In a letter written and signed by Dr. Kofi Issah, the Upper East Regional Director of Ghana Health Services dated 15th July, 2016 and addressed to the branch Manager, HFC Bank Ghana Ltd, Tamale, requested the manager to withhold payment of Dr. Amoo’s salary on condition that he had vacated post.
“We wish to inform you that, the above named officer, who is a customer of your bank has vacated post.
“You are, therefore, kindly requested to withhold payment of his July 2016 salary and subsequent salaries, until further notice”, the letter stated.
It further provided account details of Dr. Amoo and copied the Medical Director, Regional Hospital – Bolgatanga and Regional Internal Auditor, GHS.
Checks by this reporter have revealed Dr. Amoo was transferred from Builsa North District Hospital in Sandema, also in the Upper East Region, to the Regional Hospital in Bolgatanga, following reshuffling of some medical doctors in the region.
His transfer letter, which again, Dr. Kofi Issah signed, was dated March 2, 2016. His transfer took effect from March10, 2016.
Upon reporting at his new post, management of the hospital could not provide accommodation for Dr. Amoo as they claimed they were renovating an apartment at Block ‘D’ of the Doctors’ Bungalows in between the hospital and Bolgatanga Nurses’ Training College.
Meanwhile, within the same period, the management of Builsa North District Hospital had also asked Dr. Amoo to vacate the bungalow he was occupying, because he was no longer a staff of the facility.
In his letter to respond to claims that he had vacated post, Dr. Amoo emphatically stated that since the regional hospital could not readily offer him accommodation and he was also being asked to vacate the bungalow he was occupying at Sandema, he had no option but to request for 18 working days leave, hoping that by the time the leave period was over, his accommodation would have been ready.
His request was duly granted by Dr. Patrick Atobrah, the Medical Director of the Regional Hospital, who signed the leave application form on March 14, 2016, based on a recommendation made by Dr. Samuel Aborah, Clinical Coordinator of same hospital.
While on leave in Accra, Dr. Amoo said he came back to Bolgatanga on six consecutive times to check on progress of his accommodation, but the result was not good.
According to him, as he was doing all this to secure a place and was not succeeding, another doctor came and was given accommodation at the doctors’ bungalow at Soe.
Even as he was on leave, another letter, dated July 26, 2016, and signed by Dr. Kofi Issah, directed him (Dr. Amoo) to report back on August 1, 2016.
The letter stated he was to continue work pending arrangements for further posting instructions reminding him of the general administrative practices and procedures of the Ghana Health Service in case he had any grievances about his work in the hospital.
The letter further stated; “I will advise that staying away from work without official permission whilst a grievance is being addressed is not an option, and will suggest dialogue with the necessary authorities”.
In the last paragraph of the letter, Dr. Issah entreated the Medical Director to report on the resumption of duty of Dr. Amoo to him. Our investigations revealed this was not done though Dr. Amoo resumed duty accordingly.
The aforesaid paragraphs suggest that the regional director was not aware Dr. Amoo sought permission which was approved by his Medical Director, Dr. Patrick Atobrah.
Another letter, seen by this reporter and dated October 11, 2016, written and signed by Dr. Issah, stated; “As at today, October 11, 2016, the Regional Hospital has not provided us with any document affirming your resumption of duty as they were instructed to do as per the letter of 26th July. 2016.”
The Regional Director stated in this letter that he had taken note of the issues raised in Dr. Amoo’s letter and subsequent action taken to regularize his salary whilst they tackle the administrative lapses with the regional hospital.
In a letter dated September 29, 2016, written and signed by Dr. Amoo, he maintained he did not vacate post as he explained; “That, I strongly aver that the management of the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital was aware that I had not vacated post and that all my internal allowances were paid to me”.
He said, whoever reported the matter to the regional director might have done so out of either misinformation, hatred, trying to sabotage him or an attempt to dent his image and reputation or a combination of all.
According to him, he resumed duty on the August 1, 2016 as he was directed by the regional director in his letter dated July 26, 2016 and had since been at post.
Unhappy with stringent decision by the director to block his salary, Dr. Amoo stated in the last paragraph of his letter; “That, with the greatest respect to your office and in humility I wish to fundamentally state that any administrative decision that when taken will affect a person or party, the person or persons must be given the opportunity to be heard in person.
“In my case, it was not so. In furtherance to this, I also want to state that the report was not brought in good faith, and that, the letter be withdrawn and the embargo on my accounts be lifted to avoid any legal implications”.
Perhaps, convinced by the explanation of Dr. Amoo, the Regional Director on October 11, 2016, wrote to the manager of HFC Bank in Tamale requesting the lifting of the embargo on the former’s salary.
“We wish to bring to your notice and request that all salaries and allowances due to Dr. Amoo since the blockage and subsequently should be released/paid to him upon receipt of this correspondent”, the letter stated.
Though we have sighted the letter requesting the bank to lift the embargo on Dr. Amoo’s salary, The Chronicle Ghana can confirm that two weeks after the letter was written, Dr. Amoo still does not have access to his bank accounts.
When we called up at the HFC Bank branch in Tamale on Thursday October 27, the branch manager and his deputy were not available. The front desk administrator could not also confirm receipt or otherwise of the letter.
Apart from the letters we sighted, both the Regional Director of Health Services and the Medical Director of the Regional Hospital, have refused to speak to us on the issue. Their reason to turn down our request for interview is unclear. Understandably so, the Human Resource Manager and Estates Manager of the hospital would not also speak when we contacted them after all their superiors declined to speak.
When we first conducted Dr. Atobrah, he referred us to the Regional Director because if he could speak at all, he needed the go-ahead from him. And when the Regional Director was contacted, he simply said; “From personal experience, I won’t want to speak to the media any longer. So please, understand me”.
Meanwhile, simple and friendly-looking Dr. Amoo, has strongly indicated in clear terms, his readiness to drug the Ghana Health Service and the HFC Bank to court for what he believes is unfair treatment meted out to him. He said he has already consulted his lawyer and in a matter of days, they will head to court to seek justice.
Our independent checks at the Sandema hospital revealed that Dr. Amoo, though did not work for long in that facility; he exhibited exceptional professionalism and competence and approached his work with care and love as he conducted his duty in wards like maternity and emergency.
From our investigations, Dr. Amoo did not vacate post because a reliable source suggested to us that the blockage of his salary could have been an administrative lapse or some deliberate attempts within that would have orchestrated a clandestine plan to frustrate him.
During our one month investigations into the matter, we also monitored and observed how Dr. Amoo attended to his clients at the Regional hospital. Our observations revealed some clients he attended to at Sandema followed to get him attend to them at his present post. Perhaps, a sign, he did a good job there.
On our final days of investigations on Wednesday October 26 and Thursday October 27, Dr. Amoo was at post discharging his duty.
Upper East Region has a huge deficit of medical officers because most doctors often refuse postings to the region on a wide range of reasons. To this point, one would have thought that Dr. Amoo’s case could have been handled more diplomatically so as it does not send a wrong signal that doctors are not well treated in the region.