Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
A warning strike embarked upon by members of the Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (ARDN) yesterday grounded activities at the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
The doctors told journalists that they were going on a three-day warning strike to draw attention to irregularities in the payment of their salaries by the government since the beginning of the year.
Though some nurses were seen around the hospital still carrying out skeletal services, some patients, especially those in the emergency unit had started moving out to private hospitals, while those who couldn’t afford the cost were waiting for the doctors to call off the strike.
However, it was learnt that the presence of the nurses would not make any difference since they would need to get instructions from the resident doctors, who had all vacated the hospital premises, on the kind of treatment to administer to patients.
Wards, consultation clinics, the pharmacy, laboratories and other departments in the hospital were sparsely manned, even as members of the Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP), have also given their intention to down tools next week.
Dr. Okoye Chukwunonso, President of the ARDN, said yesterday that his members had been receiving 48 percent of their salaries for the past four months.
He said information available to the doctors showed that it was only at the FMC Yenagoa that resident doctors were being paid 48 percent of their salaries since January this year, a development he said was unacceptable.
According to him, all efforts to meet with the concerned authorities to explain the reason for the shortfall in the doctors’ salaries had not yielded any fruits.
“We have been having the challenge of being paid only 48 percent of our salaries for the past four months. We have tried to be patient and also show understanding all the while, but it appears nobody wants to listen to us.
“The fact is that it is affecting our members and we do not see how we can continue to show this understanding”, he said.
Okoye said that the three-day warning protest would end on Saturday as it is not an indefinite action, adding that the union would decide on the next line of action after that.
Consultants and nurses were seen carrying out skeletal services when our correspondent visited the federal health facility on Thursday.
A female resident doctor who simply gave her name as Dr. Esther said work at the FMC cannot be normal because “the nurses need instructions from us to also do their job effectively”.
She called on the concerned authorities to do the needful before the strike becomes full-blown.
Similarly, members of the Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals at the FMC Yenagoa have threatened to go on an indefinite strike beginning from Tuesday next week.
Mr. Oginike Lante, chairman of the state chapter of the union, explained that the action followed the half payment of their salaries since January this year.
He said though meetings had been held with the management to ascertain the reason for the shortfall, the association had made its position and demands known and wouldn’t be blamed for the disruption in medical activities in the hospital.