The Volta Regional Director of Ghana Health Services (GHS), Dr Joseph Teye Nuertey, has backed the call by his Upper East Regional counterpart, Dr. John Koku Awoonor-Williams for allowances paid to student nurses to be scrapped.
Speaking on US FM last Friday, Dr Nuertey said that the nation needed money to equip health facilities and could not continue giving allowances to health trainees.
He said the Health ministry spends almost 90 per cent of its budget on personnel emoluments and that the call for scraping the allowances was in the “right direction.”
The Upper East Regional Director of Health Services, Dr John Koku Awoonor-Williams, started the debate when he suggested that allowances paid to student nurses should be scrapped. Dr. Awoonor-Williams said “many students have continued to receive trainee allowances for five years for a two-year programme, simply because they continue to fail their final licensure examinations and so long as they continue to fail, they continue to receive allowances,”
Reacting to the suggestions, the Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Health, Mr. Tony Goodman, told US FM that Trainee nurses, were always on the field and do not go home while in school and therefore, needed the allowances.
He explained that the allowances help to retain and motivate nurses in the country, and added that the incentive helped in changing the country’s “brain drain situation into brain gain.”
Mr. Goodman also said trainee nurses who failed their licensure examinations had three chances during which they took their allowances and after the third chance they were taken off the allowances. “Immediately you leave or complete College, you are automatically off the allowance.”
But Dr. Nuertey rather attributed the ‘brain-gain’ to the enhanced salary structure in the public sector and not the trainee allowances and suggested that only needy trainees should be supported though scholarships and the rest allowed to access the students loan scheme.