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Ghana News : Economic hardship: Nurses ‘run away’ to greener pastures abroad – Business – ghlatest





Ghana News : Nurses Economic hardship – Business – More Ghanaian nurses are in the process of securing visas to practice abroad, a situation most of them say is born out of poor working conditions in the country.

Over the past year, there have been increased cases of Ghanaian-trained nurses and other health professionals travelling outside the country.

A general nurse, who wishes to be known as Alawani, last month secured a job and visa to the United Kingdom. Prior to the new appointment, she had been practicing at a hospital in the Eastern Region for over seven years.

Asked why she chose to leave, she indicated that she has nothing to show for the years she has been working in Ghana as a nurse. She lamented the meagre salary, poor conditions of service, and risks nurses have to endure in Ghana’s health facilities.

“I am very passionate about my job and I work really hard, but the economy is too hard on us. A lot of nurses are leaving Ghana to countries like the UK and US for many reasons, including good salaries and better employment contracts.

“I am for the idea of nurses seeking opportunities overseas, because we live in a country where nobody cares about you as a nurse and you are underpaid for overworking. You cannot even take good care of yourself and your family,” she said.

According to Ms. Alawani, leaving the country to practice in the UK was her only option after furthering her education and obtaining a degree in nursing.

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Comparing some conditions of service for nurses in Ghana and the UK, Ms. Alawani said: “In Ghana, the normal work hours are between 8-9 hours a day – and sometimes you even end up working for up to 14 hours or more and earn a monthly salary. It is the same salary even if you work extra hours, and nobody really cares about your efforts.

“Here in the UK, it is totally different. If you do more hours you get more pay, and every company has its own number of work-hours per week – which is usually between 39-42 hours. So, for instance, if you do your 39 hours before the week-end, you have more hours to do extra-time for extra pay,” she added.

As regards earnings, she noted that salaries in the UK are far better and more encouraging than what nurses earn in Ghana.

“For instance, back home (Ghana) if you work for 9-12 hours a day for maybe 4 days in a week, you earn a monthly salary of about GH¢2,000 regardless how long your shifts last. But in the UK, you could earn a minimum of £12 or £13 pounds per hour. So, if you are working for 12 hours in a day for 4 or 5 days, you can imagine how much you earn in a month.”

Another nurse, who for the purpose of this article wants to be known as Adora, has been practicing as a nurse at a facility in Accra for 10 years.

She also wishes to leave the country, as according to her is the right decision because the salary abroad is better and worth the effort put in.

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“You will enjoy better living conditions. I will leave this country if I have the opportunity,” she stated.

When asked whether they are aware their decisions to leave the country to practice elsewhere may affect Ghana’s health sector negatively, responses from these nurses varied.

For Ms. Alawani, even though more nurses are being trained in institutions each year she believe the country will lose out on experienced personnel, and that should be of major concern to authorities.

“Most of my colleagues have left and others are willing to leave, too. The situation will affect the health sector in Ghana because you end up losing competent and experienced health personnel. Our leaders may think that if you leave there are always people in the queue seeking employment, but they forget that experience is very important in the field.”

Adora on the other hand feels that: “There are a lot of people being trained, and immediately the economy becomes stable the remaining will stay”.

Minority calls for action

Meanwhile, the Minority group in parliament last month directed government’s attention to prioritise the welfare of health personnel in the country, so as to curb high attrition among the workforce.

A statement signed by the Ranking Member of the Parliament ary Select Committee on Health, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, on 6th September 2022, said the situation of healthcare practitioners leaving the country has become critical and needs government attention.

“Contrary to the propaganda and noise government makes on addressing the welfare needs of health professionals, most professionals will confirm that their conditions of service have deteriorated over the years.

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“Government’s lack of concern for public health workers in this hyperinflationary period has exacerbated an already bad economic situation, leading to high attrition among the workforce.

“In June this year, the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association (GRNMA) informed Ghanaians that in the first quarter of 2022, over 3,000 trained nurses and midwives left the shores of Ghana to seek greener pastures abroad.

“The story is not different among practicing doctors in Ghana. Alarmingly, General Practitioners, specialists and consultants have all joined a long line of Ghanaian health professionals waiting for clearance or job offers from abroad in order to leave this country. The situation has become critical – to the point that Ghana is currently experiencing losses of general practitioners and specialists needed to handle cases across the healthcare continuum,” the statement said.




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