A tipoff received from sources inside the Upper East Regional Hospital says an “illustrious” doctor who works additional hours to meet patients’ demands at the facility is being deprived of a number of allowances due him.
The sources say Dr Francis Ibrahim-Betonsi, who was posted to the hospital in 2018, is the only doctor not to have received allowances for fuel, accommodation, feeding, utilities (water and electricity) and car maintenance for two years at the facility.
Acting on the secret information, Starr News visited the hospital and engaged the Acting Medical Director, Dr Samuel Aborah, who is also the facility’s Clinical Coordinator and Dr Ibrahim-Betonsi’s immediate superior, on the issue.
“We’ve been paying his monthly incentive. That one is paid from the hospital’s internally generated funds. It’s not from government. We don’t pay fuel [allowance] to doctors. It is not a policy by the hospital that doctors should receive monthly fuel [allowance] from the facility. But we’ve made a policy with regard to utilities— water and electricity. We have asked him to bring his receipts for the utilities so we can pay him; he hasn’t brought them.
“We don’t give feeding allowances. Those we feed are house officers who are in their houseman-ship training or doctors who have come temporarily to work for us. We feed them or sometimes we give them the feeding money. For accommodation, accommodation is given to all doctors free by our own local policy to attract doctors to the region. For car maintenance allowance, what he has to do is to apply. The last time he told me, I said he should apply. If you don’t apply, we can’t just give it to you. He hasn’t applied,” Dr Aborah told Starr News.
Application letter by “deprived” doctor contradicts claims by management’s head
There is a clear conflict between what Dr Aborah told Starr News and the content of a letter Dr Aborah had issued in reply to an application letter Dr Ibrahim-Betonsi wrote to the hospital’s management in connection with the allowances.
Dr Aborah had penned and signed a letter acknowledging receipt of the letter written by Dr Ibrahim-Betonsi applying for his “cumulative allowances” which vividly also included his car maintenance allowance.
Dr Ibrahim-Betonsi’s application letter is dated 6th August, 2020. Dr Aborah’s reply to that letter is dated 14th August, 2020. But Dr Aborah emphasised in a Starr News interview on this matter on Monday August 17, 2020— three days after he had written a reply to Dr Ibrahim-Betonsi’s application letter— that Dr Ibrahim-Betonsi had not applied for his car maintenance allowance.
Some concerned staff at the hospital say the management also has refused to provide accommodation for Dr Ibrahim-Betonsi at a residence that befits his status not only as a doctor but also as one who is next to Dr Aborah himself at the regional hospital today in terms of experience.
“In fact, some of the bungalows, which are meant for doctors working in our facility, are empty and they do not need renovation. Since he (Dr Ibrahim-Betonsi) joined us in November, 2018, the management has kept him at a flat instead of allocating one of the vacant doctors’ bungalows to him. Health workers who are not doctors are rather occupying some of those doctors’ bungalows whilst a doctor is being confined to a flat,” said one of the concerned staff who does not want her name mentioned because she loves her job.
Reaction to accommodation concerns
When engaged on the concerns raised by the staff about Dr Ibrahim-Betonsi’s accommodation, Dr Aborah told Starr News: “Where he (Dr Ibrahim-Betonsi) is staying, the flats there, he says he doesn’t like it. We are preparing a place for him [among] the bungalows.”
Dr Ibrahim-Betonsi was wrongfully dismissed from the Ghana Health Service (GHS) for 6 years after he kicked against alleged attempts by some health workers at the Effia Nkwanta Regional Hospital in the Western Region to extort money from a poor couple whose teenage daughter was in an emergency need of blood transfusion.
As he continued to speak out against some purported ills in the health sector, he was tagged as “mad” by some of his superiors who eventually got him dismissed from the service in 2012. After Starr News challenged authorities at the Ghana Medical and Dental Council (GMDC), the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) and the GHS headquarters in a ‘battle’ that lasted a year through a series of news reports, Dr Ibrahim-Betonsi was reinstated and promoted in 2018.
The Upper East Regional Director of Health, Dr Winfred Ofosu, posted him to the Upper East Regional Hospital upon receipt of Dr Ibrahim-Betonsi’s reinstatement letter from the Director General of the GHS at the time, Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare. Since his arrival at the hospital in 2018, a number of patients have been full of praise for him in public, describing him as a “messiah” for his “commitment” and “unique” delivery at the facility.
The key position he occupies at the regional hospital is the reason some of his co-staff say they do not understand why he does not enjoy “the same allowances his colleague doctors receive” and why the same befitting residence (bungalow) in which his peers live is yet to be allocated to him since he joined the hospital in 2018.
By Edward Adeti, Upper East Region, Daily Mail GH