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Nigerian Resident Doctors Threaten Nationwide Strike

LASUTH says 150 nurses have resigned.

The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has threatened to go on a nationwide strike if the federal government does not meet its demands.

 This was just as the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) on Tuesday disclosed that more than 150 nurses resigned their appointments with the tertiary hospital within the last three years.

The association in a letter to the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, signed by its president, Dr. Emeka Innocent Orji, said processes for the strike would commence if the issues were not addressed before its January 2023 National Executive Council (NEC) meeting slated for January 24 to 28.

The letter read in part, “Our January 2023 National Executive Council meeting has been scheduled for January 24th to 28th, 2023, and we can confirm very clearly feelers that if these issues are not sorted out before that meeting, our members will likely give us a mandate to immediately kick-start processes that will lead to a nationwide industrial disharmony in the health sector.”

NARD had earlier issued an ultimatum to the federal government six months ago on account of lingering unresolved issues affecting its members, including the irregularities in the new circular on an upward review of the Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF), outstanding payment of the arrears of the new hazard allowance, non-payment of the skipping arrears for 2014, 2015 and 2016, and non-payment of the consequential adjustment of the minimum wage to some of its members.

Other issues in contention included the delay in the upward review of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure(CONMESS), salary arrears of its members in state tertiary health institutions running into several months, including Abia, Imo, Ondo, Ekiti and Gombe States, and non-domestication of the Medical Residency Training Act (MRTA) in most states across the federation.

While lauding efforts of the government through its ministries, departments and agencies in resolving some of the issues raised, the association, however, said many of them remain largely unresolved and have now become sources of serious nationwide agitation threatening industrial peace and harmony in the health sector.

NARD said the major ones amongst them were: “Omitted 2020 MRTF payment, irregularities in the new MRTF circular inconsistent with the Medical Residency Training Act, existing collective bargaining agreements and current economic realities and review of CONMESS salary structure.”

The association added, “We know how critical this period is and the chaos that will ensue if the government does not take steps to prevent this from happening, and so we humbly implore you to use your good office to resolve these issues before our January NEC meeting. Sir, we trust in your fatherly disposition and believe that you will come to our aid and save this nation from this imminent industrial disharmony.”

NARD also copied the letter to the Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Secretary to the Government of Federation, Ministers of Labour  and Employment and Finance respectively, as well as the Chairman of the Nigerian Governor’s Forum (NGF), among others.

Meanwhile, LASUTH has disclosed that more than 150 nurses resigned their appointments with the tertiary hospital within the last three years.

The Chief Medical Director of LASUTH, Prof. Adetokunbo Fabamwo, said this during a news conference in Lagos.

Fabamwo said the situation arose as a result of health workers relocating abroad to practice, noting that the exit replacement strategy of the government had, however, ensured that operations weren’t disrupted at the hospital.

He added that in recent times, applications for positions of nurses and resident doctors had reduced in the tertiary hospital.

To address the challenge, Fabamwo said the hospital now recruits double qualified nurses and also engaged some retired but not tired nurses on contract basis to bridge the gaps.

On the issue of bed space management, Fabamwo said the hospital was using a team of nurses called ‘monitoring crew’ to ensure speedy transfers of stable patients from emergency units to wards.

This, according to him, had created spaces for incoming patients.

Fabamwo disclosed that the ongoing construction of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) building with a 120-bed capacity in the hospital was at 90 per cent completion level.

He said the SDG building would alleviate the issue of bed space constriction, enhance critical care services in the hospital and assist to reduce medical tourism in the state and country.

The CMD added that the hospital was also working on the expansion of its Surgical Emergency Unit, Psychiatric Unit and Resident Doctors quarters.

According to him, the policies and infrastructure development was to improve healthcare services and patient’s experience at the hospital.

On the issue of Solomon Oriere, who allegedly sold COVID-19 vaccination cards without inoculation, Fabamwo said the impostor wasn’t a staff of LASUTH.

The CMD said Oriere had been arrested and presently in police custody, adding that the public would be kept abreast of the findings of the investigation.

The federal government said between July and August 2022, 422 persons were caught trying to use fake COVID-19 vaccination cards to travel.

It said that the 422 persons were discovered by the Port Health Services (PHS) and were apprehended while trying to pass through the clearance process at the airport

Onyebuichi Ezigbo in Abuja