Neglect: Over 15 health workers suspended 

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Deputy Minister of Health 1, Professor Charles Senesissie speaking to newsmen at the Kingharman Road Hospital

By Alhaji Haruna Sani

Government through the Ministry of Health and Sanitation has suspended over 15 health workers for what the ministry referred to as poor ethical discharge of duties, which led to the death of destitute pregnant woman and her unborn child.

While updating the press at the Kingharman Road Hospital in Freetown about the unfortunate incident, the Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation (MoHS) 1, Professor Charles Senessie, explained that while he was on his regular routine across different government hospitals in Freetown, he was informed about the tragic death of a destitute woman who was rejected in two hospitals during her labour.

“I was informed that at around 10pm on Thursday, a destitute pregnant woman was hopelessly lying and vomiting and ceaselessly bleeding on the street of Spur Road in Freetown. A medical doctor who was passing by interrogated the people around the woman including police officers, who told him about her condition. They contacted the National Emergency Medical Service (NEMS) to take the woman to the government hospital,” he explained.

He said the medical practitioner together with staff NEMS took the woman to the Satellite Hospital at Kingharman Road and the Princess Christian Maternal Hospital (PCMH) at Cottage Hospital, respectively, but that the medical practitioners on duty rejected the patient despite her dire condition.

The deputy minister went on to state that it was recommended that they take the poor woman, who was mentally derange to the Rokupar Hospital at Wallington.

He said the nurse from NEMS failed to follow due process by taking the patient to the Lumley Police Station and made an official complaint that two hospitals had rejected the patient.

The minister said while they were at the police station, calls were made to the Rokupar Hospital at Wallington and that they were given green light, but unfortunately the patient and her unborn child lost their lives on the way.

“This poor demonstration of the work of the health care sector is unacceptable in our country. There are colleagues in the profession who are not up to the level of empathy and professional discharge of duty,” he said.

Professor Senessie informed the press that after receiving information about the horrific event, the ministry summoned all professionals, including the ambulance services and the medical doctor, who gave the philanthropic assistance to the late patient.

He said following the meeting, disciplinary measures were taken including the suspension of all medical practitioners and absentees that were supposed to be on duty and those who were on contracts, were immediately suspended because of poor judgment and non-acceptance of the patient.

The minister said their actions will send a message to other healthcare workers to know that poor discharge of duty is not acceptable.

He said while detail investigation is still ongoing, an on-the-spot inspection was carried out by himself and the chief pharmacist of the pharmacy board to see what the challenges of health workers were.

He said they identified lapses for which some of the pharmacist and technicians were suspended and others queried.

“We would ensure that the health care delivery system is optimised and aligned with the vision of the ministry of health and the global vision. Colleagues who are not optimized to a high level of competence will face disciplinary measures, go through refreshers courses and the like,” he stated. 

He encourages the citizenry to forward complaint of any issue regarding poor health care management.

 “We are working on expanding the hospital services by having more hospital being built in Waterloos, Lumley and other strategic areas so as to ease the pressure on the referral hospital. But until then, every health care worker has the onus on to discharge their duties in line with their oath which is to protect the life of every patient the come in touch with,” he said.

He said the ministry will do a detail root cause analysis to see all the circumstances that surround healthcare work, so that they will be given the enabling environment as well, but until then, health care workers have the ethical mandate and responsibility that every patient has the right to life and no patient should be turned away from any government hospital in the country for any other reason.

He said the ministry of health is the custodian of health in the country and that they were  working in line with the vision of the International community, especially the United Nations and the Sustainable Development Goals in particular, the universal health coverage wherein after 2030 no one should be left behind,irrespective of their financial, social and mental status.

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