FG, NARD Meet Wednesday to Resolve Doctors’ Strike

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  • Government directs federal hospitals to engage doctors on ad-hoc basis NARD shuns strike in Anambra, Ekiti

Senator Iroegbu, Kuni Tyessi in Abuja David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka and Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has said the federal government will meet with the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD) today to resolve the ongoing industrial action.

Ngige in a statement issued tuesday by the Deputy Director (Press) in the ministry, Mr. Samuel Olowookere, said conciliatory meeting would be held with NARD and other stakeholders in the sector.

“Towards apprehending the strike embarked upon by NARD, after reaching an agreement with the federal government on issues in dispute,” he said.

Ngige said: “There will be a crucial conciliatory meeting with the president and executive of NARD, president and executive of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), officials of the Federal Ministry of Health led by the Minister, Prof. Isaac Adewole and other stakeholders.”

The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole has directed Chief Medical directors/Managing Directors of federal hospitals to immediately engage the services of Locum Doctors to augment the services of consultants, NYSC doctors and doctors on internship pending the resolution of the on-going strike by the resident doctors.

This was contained in a circular Ref. No. C. 3132/Vol. V/116, of September 5, 2017, addressed to all CMDs/MDs of federal tertiary health institutions across the country.

In a statement signed by the Director, Media and Public relations, in the ministry, Ms. Boade Akinola, it stated that the directive was an attempt to reduce the increased workload of consultants, NYSC doctors and house officers, thereby preventing reduction in quality of service delivery to patients.

The minister had earlier approved the use of armed forces, police and Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) health facilities in ensuring continuous provision of health care services in the hospitals.

This new directive is to further provide additional support to the federal government hospitals to strengthen service delivery.

The government is committed to fulfilling her mandate of providing health to its citizens no matter the circumstances we find ourselves,” the statement noted.

However, resident doctors working at the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Teaching Hospital tuesday shunned the ongoing nationwide strike embarked upon by medical doctors by appearing at their duty posts.

THISDAY gathered that most of the doctors were at their duty posts attending to patients at the hospital and carrying out other duties.

A nurse attached to consulting room 1, who simply identified herself as Kasie said the resident doctors were on duty.
She said: “There is no strike here in Amaku. As you can see, the doctors are both in the consultation rooms attending to patients.”

Though the doctor on seat could not be reached for comment, the hospital was generally busy as people were going about their normal duties.

According to the Chief Medical Director of the teaching hospital, Dr Basil Nwankwo, Anambra State has peculiar issue saying, “that is the reason why we are not joining the strike.”

Meanwhile, at the General Hospital in Onitsha, the case was different as resident doctors were not on duty.
Though, patients were seen at the OPD department, there was no doctor on seat to attend to them.

Speaking with THISDAY, Mrs. Ekwutosi Omasi, said she had been in the hospital since 10a.m. with her sick mother to see the doctor only to be told that doctors were on strike.

She lamented the high cost of private hospitals in Onitsha, saying she is only a petty trader and cannot afford to take her diabetic mother to a private hospital.

Resident doctors at Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital (EKSUTH) will tomorrow join the nationwide strike declared by NARD to press home their demands.

The doctors said they decided to put the strike on hold due to the ongoing accreditation of surgery department of the hospital scheduled to end today.

NARD President, EKSUTH chapter, Dr. Tunji Olaoye, said the doctors would join their counterparts across the country by downing tools from Thursday because of poor welfare.

Olaoye revealed that Ekiti State Government which owns the hospital, owes resident doctors six months arrears of salaries which he said has made life difficult for them.

EKSUTH NARD boss said apart from arrears of salaries owed, doctors are not being placed appropriately which is affecting their career progression.

Olaoye said: “We are joining the strike next Thursday after the ongoing accreditation exercise might have ended on Wednesday. We want to appeal to our patients to bear with us.

“The problem with we Nigerians is insensitivity to issues that affect workers. Several ultimatums were issued but no response from the government until the action began.

“When somebody is not well taken care of, how do you expect him to give his best? Resident doctors are just a segment of medical workers, we have consultants on ground and other health workers.
“Most of the times, we don’t jump to strikes, but the resolution depends on the government and as soon as government meets our demands, we will return to work.”

EKSUTH Chief Medical Director, Dr. Kolawole Ogundipe, said normal activities were going on at the hospital but efforts are being made to ensure that “the system does not collapse.”

Ogundipe said: “In spite of the fact that strike has commenced at the national level, it has been deferred here at EKSUTH because the accreditation team has arrived in here and the strike is on hold.

“We will continue to engage our local NARD in negotiation to address their problems so that we don’t have significant disruption of services here

“We should put our hands together to ensure that the system does not collapse. We are discussing, and we are going to put our local issues in the right perspective.
“This hospital is owned by the Ekiti State Government and not the Federal Government, and the responsibility to pay falls on the state government.”