The general secretary of the Ghana Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists Dr Adu-Gyamfi has confirmed reports that doctors in public hospitals often reject lab results from their hospital’s internal laboratories.
On Tuesday, there was a report on a development at the Tema General Hospital where doctors regularly recommend to patients who visit the facility to conduct their lab tests at private facilities within the area instead of the hospital’s lab.
Reacting to the development, Dr Adu-Gyamif said the situation at the Tema General Hospital is not new to people in the health sector.
He said while there are genuine cases of doctors insisting on a particular lab because of the efficiency and accuracy of their results, there are some that are financially induced.
“The other side to it is if I bring for an example, Lab Kwesimansa, thirty patients in a month to come and do a test with about GHC150 X 30, Probably the lab might also appreciate you at the end of every month with a token. And you may want to appreciate that than the system that the government is just paying you. Everything that you request in the lab, you get nothing from there.
“Hence, that commercial entity and commercial aspect cannot be hidden and played an ostrich with . Right from Korle Bu to all the tertiary hospitals and even some district hospitals.”
He said, “one may say the lab people are also people who might have private laboratories and they want patients to come to their end. But trust me laboratorians are not the ones who refer patients to any facility. But it’s rather at a point of request when it’s given to you.
He blamed the situation on the poor management of funds generated by the labs over the years.
He maintained that monies generated from labs should be reinvested into the labs since qualified personnel are available.
“It’s actually a systemic problem and some of us at one point or the other suffer the consequences. The structures have problems and we have to be ready to fix them. If I come to a health center and there is no equipment, I talk about it and nothing is done yet you expect results, there’s going to be a problem.”
Defending the competencies of lab scientists, he noted “for the competencies of people, we can’t say we don’t have them because the people working in the private labs are our colleagues so it’s the system. We need to solve our challenges in labs by putting in proper structures so that we don’t use monies that come from the lab for buying cars etc. We should set aside monies to fuel our labs.”
Dr Adu-Gyamfi indicated that most labs are running on obsolete equipment and even if the equipment is sitting there, “you need a quality management system.”
“We lack the funds and we don’t make the decision as to how monies coming from the labs are used. That’s one of our biggest problems If as a system we don’t put in structures and give the public the best, people will always benefit. We have all the people that can run the system. For me, we should rather deal with the situation rather than down running it down and asking that people go to private labs.”
He added “most of the people in the private facilities come to the public facilities to get things done. We need a holistic approach in making sure Ghanaians get the best care. As a nation, we must be ready to invest in our health system and not leave it in the hands of individuals. We must be deliberate in solving these problems else we’ll come back to them.”
Meanwhile, Deputy General Secretary of the Ghana Medical Association Dr. Titus Beyuo has urged the management of Tema General Hospital to investigate the claims despite the low investment in public laboratories.
“Investment into our labs over the years has been poor. We should find out how many of our labs are ISO certified, sending patients to private labs to get quality results is not bad but the management of public hospitals should wake up.”
He revealed that “most of our equipment requires servicing and after a certain number of years they need to be changed so if you don’t change them, they can’t be used. That’s not running down the lab. We need to consistently invest in our healthcare system-”
“If you have the best of healthcare workers and you put them in a dysfunctional system, you can’t expect excellence. Let’s not politicize healthcare. It doesn’t have a political color because we all have one color of blood,” he urged.