Doctors Strike: No Budget for Teaching Hospital in 2019, Says Ondo Govt

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James Sowole in Akure

Ondo State Government yesterday said resident doctors working at University of Medical Sciences Teaching Hospital (UNIMEDTH) both in Ondo and Akure complexes were being owed salaries because the hospitals’ fund were not captured in the 2019 Appropriation of the state.

Dr. Jibayo Adeyeye, Special Adviser to Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu on Health, stated this while speaking on the strike by resident doctors in the two hospitals due to non-payment of their salaries by the government.

The resident doctors had last week embarked on strike following the government’s failure to pay their salaries, ranging from two to six months.

Adeyeye said the ongoing industrial action embarked upon by resident doctors was caused by inability to appropriate the hospitals’ funds in the last fiscal year.

He explained that the hospitals began operations after the annual fiscal Appropriation Bill had been concluded and signed into law, thereby leaving the hospitals to run on little funds available pending the next Appropriation Bill for the 2020 fiscal year.

However, Adeyeye disclosed that the hospitals’ fund has been accommodated in the 2020 Appropriation Bill which was signed into law on December 31, 2019 by the governor.

According to him, resident doctors and other workers on the hospitals’ payroll would begin to receive their salaries as and when due because in the next three weeks, the hospitals would have started operating the 2020 budget.

The special adviser dismissed the rumour that the management of University of Medical Sciences Teaching Hospital was planning to sack some of the resident doctors who are currently on strike.

Adeyeye, who was flanked by the management team of the hospitals, including the Chief Medical Director, Dr. Oluwole Ige, explained that insufficient funds was responsible for inability of the management to pay the doctors.

Speaking on the allegation of divide and rule strategy, the CMD revealed that in December, the money that was available was not enough to pay all the resident doctors, who he said are being given priority in payment arrangement of workers.

He disclosed that after agreeing with the resident doctors, the management decided to pay 33 doctors with the available fund without any preference.

The special adviser emphasised that only newly employed doctors and those who were yet to do proper filing of their documents with the management were affected by the unpaid salaries.

He insisted that 75 per cent of the resident doctors are owed two or three months salaries, which he assured would be hopefully cleared by the end of the month.

Adeyeye, therefore, appealed to the doctors to shelve the strike and return to work, saying “we appeal to them to come back to work. We don’t have any plan to sanction anybody.”