THE SPEAKER of Parliament, Prof. Mike Ocquaye, has called for laws to criminalise the turning away of patients by health professionals under emergency situations.
The call comes in the wake of the death of a 70-year-old man who was refused treatment for lack of bed by seven hospitals in Accra.
Commenting on the matter in the House on Tuesday (yesterday), the Speaker said the gaps in the system that enabled health professionals to play mischief must be sealed.
“And nobody can come and tell me that this is a domestic matter. Go and explain to the police. These laws have not been there from beginning of time and people take advantage. I would want honourable Members of Parliament to analyse these areas. What are the gaps that allow people to do these things to our people?
“But actually, there must be specific laws on specific mischief that we consider as Members of Parliament that worry and bother our people and these are the matters for private members’ bill to enhance the parameters of the law and protect our people even more,” the Speaker said.
“The law is not as adequate as we sometimes think. In other countries, I know they specifically provide for such matters. And we should look at our own provisions as to issues like this. No public hospital, no medical person employed in the public-owned facility, shall refuse to attend to a person who’s brought in an emergency situation to a public hospital, and that’ll be an offence and a crime.
“In fact, it is very easy to associate that with manslaughter. The essence of it is negligence. So you will know that when such a person dies you this doctor or nurse, you are going to be charged.”
Anthony Opoku Acheampong, the Chief Executive Officer of the Printhony Printing Press in Adabraka, a suburb of Accra, died in his car at the LEKMA Hospital after he had been turned away from the Adabraka branch of C & J Hospital, Korle-Bu Polyclinic, the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital and the Ridge Hospital.
The other hospitals he was turned away from were the Police Hospital and the Trust Hospital.
The seven hospitals, according to the Ministry of Health, are responsible for the death of Mr Opoku Anthony.