Strike: Doctors decry Lagos Govt stance on removal from service scheme



The Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) has appealed to the Lagos State to yield to resolving issues necessitating the ongoing doctor’s strike.

Dr Azeez Ojekunle, ARD President, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) chapter, made the plea in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos.

NAN recalls that the National Association of Resident Doctors had directed its members across the country to embark on an indefinite strike on Aug. 2.

NARD said that the strike was to protest poor working environment in public hospitals, irregular payment of doctor’s salaries and hazard allowances of N5000 which was reviewed last in 1991.

The strike was also to the immediate withdrawal of the circular removing House Officers from the scheme of service and the hasty implementation of the circular by the Lagos State Government.

Ojekunle said that some members of ARD had a meeting with representatives of the Lagos State from the of the Head of Service and its counterpart in Establishment, Training and Pension on Aug. 2.

According to him, the meeting to dialogue and resolve the imbroglio of the strike.

“We requested the withdrawal of the controversial circular removing House Officers and NYSC doctors from the state’s service scheme.

“In spite of that, they (government) were still adamant that it would not be done, rather that we should seek clarification on the interpretation of the circular which clearly stated in the circular,” he said.

Ojekunle decried the ’s stance on the circular, stressing that it was inimical to development in the health sector.

“That means the government trying to casualise and pay registered doctors stipends as allowance.

“These are doctors that are the frontline health workers that patients see when they visit hospitals. They are licensed and have been inducted into the medical profession.

“They are working for the and are part of the scheme of service, as enshrined in their appointment letters.

“But now, they are saying they are suddenly being withdrawn from the scheme of service which inimical to our system,” he said.

Ojekunle said that the association also demanded an implementation of the Medical Residency Training Act and the release of the Acts fund for sponsorship of specialisation training.

He also called for the immediate recruitment of more doctors to bridge the current shortfall in the system.

“We need more doctors to be employed, many are leaving the country, while some are leaving for tertiary institutions because of the wide disparity in salary.

“Presently, we have a deficit of over 150 resident doctors and house officers to fill the gaps of doctor-patient ratio and to meet the expectations of service delivery in the state,” he said.

According to him, the delay in the construction of Residents Doctor’s Quarters had been on for over seven years, thus called for immediate commencement of the building.

Ojekunle noted that the impasse was unfortunate, saying patients would bear the brunt of the indefinite strike.

“We are willing to go to the negotiating table again, but the minimum demands of our request must be met in the interest of the health system and the patients,” he said.

He stressed the need for the to create a conducive working condition and environment that would motivate doctors to shun the lure of migrating overseas to practise.

A check by NAN on activities at LASUTH showed full compliance with the strike directive as resident doctors stayed away from work.

Many patients and outpatients who came to the hospital were stranded as senior physicians and nurses attended to some patients.

Some consultants who provided skeletal services at the tertiary hospital and pleaded anonymity complained of being overwhelmed with the workload.

Speaking on the issue, Dr Oluwajimi Sodipo, Chairman, Medical Guild, noted that full medical services could not be rendered due to the impact of the strike, acknowledging that consultants were overwhelmed.

“The consultants are definitely overwhelmed because the resident doctors play a critical role in rendering health services.

“It impossible to render full services because the backbone of every hospital, especially the tertiary centres, are the resident doctors and even in the ratio, we have fewer consultants to resident doctors.

“So, we have one consultant to about four senior residents and it’s impossible for consultants to do the work alone,” he said.

Sodipo appealed to the to dialogue and acquiesce to the demands of the residents’ doctors toward enhancing quality services delivery in the state. (NAN)