The Minister for Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman Manu, has clarified the category of nurses who qualified to enjoy allowances as announced by President Akufo-Addo on Sunday.
According to him, although the services of nurses were critical in the fight of the Coronavirus disease, not all of them were in the frontline of the pandemic.
President Akufo-Addo on Sunday announced some measures taken by government to ameliorate the plight of health workers fighting the disease.
Among the measures are tax reliefs for the months of April, May and June, an insurance package of GH¢350,000 for each health personnel and allied professional at the forefront of the fight , as well as an additional allowance of 50 per cent of their basic salary per month for the months of March, April, May and June.
“An insurance package, with an assured sum of GH¢350,000 for each health personnel and allied professional at the forefront of the fight, has been put in place, with a daily allowance of GH¢150 being paid to contact tracers. Government has also decided that all health workers will not pay taxes on their emoluments for the next three months, i.e. April, May and June. Furthermore, all frontline health workers will receive an additional allowance of 50% of their basic salary per month, i.e. for March, April, May and June. The March allowance will be paid alongside that of April,” he said.
But addressing the press on Tuesday, the Minister for Health said “All of us are health workers but not all of us will do some work that will make us take advantage of the large bonus.”
He explained that some nurses and midwives were on study leave prior to the outbreak of the disease, while some had been asked by their facilities to go home as part of measures to contain the virus.
He explained further that some nurses had also been recalled and were awaiting further instructions.
“The president is not thinking of leaving anyone behind… A number of us are on study leave, approved officially. Over 3000 nurses and midwives are on study leave. So prior to COVID-19, they were not going to work. As at now, they have not been deployed so they are staying at home.
“Nurses who are in school have closed and they are on holidays sort of, we have sent messages to them to stand by. Should we experience an upsurge and the numbers are running out, we will deploy a second group,” he explained.
“Notwithstanding this, there are two types of nurses in schools; critical care nurses and school of peri-operative… Even their final year students and those doing national service have been recalled and are sitting at Korle Bu and Ga East to be deployed,” Mr Manu explained further
“These are people the President is thinking about. All of us will get the tax exemption but honestly, if you compare those standing by in the school waiting to be deployed to Korle Bu, UGMC, Ga East and those of us sitting at home now, I wouldn’t make a conclusion,” he added.
He concluded saying that “All nurses doing rotation as national service have been asked by their facilities to go home until the need to call them back. If after two weeks these nurses have not been called back, we haven’t made the conclusion yet. We are still looking at modalities.”
“If the President will want to appreciate those who fought the battle, those who are not providing critical services for two months, what happens to them? So let us address this issue passionately,” he said.
Nonetheless, Mr Manu said the government was working on modalities to grant the tax reliefs to all health workers, including those in the private sector.