- ‘ Cases of rape rise to 84% in Nigeria’
- Dana air crash update: 23 aircrash victims’ families yet to receive compensation
- Mimiko inaugurates new Mother & Child hospital today
- N4.56b pension scam: Female accused hospitalised,trial stalled
- Construction workers hail FG’s decision on Lagos-Ibadan expressway
- Senate adjourns plenary for 1 week, dissolves to Appropriation committee.
- Blackout looms as Egbin power plant breaks down
- FMBN, NEXIM, BOA, IB lose N47bn in 6 months - CBN
- FirstBank wins Nigerian Bank of the Year award
- PDP tackles ACN over Tukur’s comments
- Electricity workers threaten strike over Wamakko
- ‘NDIC prosecuted 55 directors, staff of micro finance banks in 2011’
- Judgment in Oni’s appeal stalled, re-fixed for Jan 8
- Slain banker: Deceased had only 3 wounds -Accused’s father
- Appointments: S/West not marginalised —FCC
Doctors’ strike: When will peace return to Lagos hospitals?
WHEN doctors in the services of the Lagos State government under the aegis of the Medical Guild and the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) suspended their 14-week strike in November last year, many thought that peace had finally returned to the hospitals. It, however, came to many Lagosians as a rude shock when the doctors rose from their congress, last Friday, and declared another indefinite strike.
According to the doctors, the state government had reneged on an agreement jointly signed by both parties last year. They accused the state government of insincerity in handling the matter and vowed to continue the strike until all their demands were met. Chief among the demands of the doctors are the full implementation of the Consolidated Medical Salary Scale (CONMESS) and the reinstatement of Dr. Ibrahim Olaifa, past Chairman of the Guild who was dismissed under controversial circumstances in the wake of one of the Guilds’ strike actions.
While announcing the commencement of the strike, the Secretary-General, Association of Resident Doctors, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Dr. Saheed Babajide, reiterated that the decision of the doctors to resume the suspended strike was borne out of dissatisfaction occasioned by government’s insensitivity as well as its failure to honour its promise as contained in the agreement reached with them.
However, the doctors’ latest strike has left some bad taste in the mouth of stakeholders in the healthcare delivery system of the state. Less than 24 hours after the doctors began the strike, some stakeholders in the medical profession in the state under the aegis of the Elders’ Forum of the Nigerian Medical Association addressed a press conference where it condemned the strike in very strong terms describing it as illegal and “one strike too many”.
Speaking on behalf of the forum, their Chairman, Dr Ore Falomo said: “This action on the part of the erring doctors shows that they are blackmailers who are insensitive to the plight of Lagos State citizens, particularly the poor masses.”
According to him, it was unfortunate that doctors who had sworn to protect the lives of their patients were now responsible for the deaths of such patients due to incessant strike actions.
“Statistics at our disposal reveal that during the last fourteen weeks strike action, there were significant loss of human lives. The graph provided clearly indicated a sharp drop in hospital attendance while there was corresponding significance increase in sickness and death of innocent Lagosians. How many more lives do you want to waste?”, he asked.
Falomo, however, said that the Elders’ Forum through the Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria (AGPMPN) would do everything humanly possible in order to ensure that the patients do not suffer untold hardship due to the strike.
“We will prevent deaths of mothers and children who are the most vulnerable group. Our members will go to the public hospital as they had been doing before to help patients. We will do this to check the excesses of the striking doctors”, he added.
Also reacting to the strike, the Lagos state government through its Senior Special Assistant on Information, Mr. Hakeem Bello, described the strike as “a resort to blackmail and the politicisation of the health of the people”. Bello said it was unfortunate that the strike was coming at a time when the state government had concluded the process of implementing the agreement it signed with the doctors.
He said that the government of Lagos state already has in place a fair wage system for its medical doctors which reflects the philosophy of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS).
The breakdown of what the state government is offering the doctors is as follows: level 10 (house officers) moved from 111, 649.8 to 173, 927.33; level 12 moved from 127, 965.07 to 225,519.33 (highest on that level); level 13 moved from 142,333.36 to 261,107.25 (highest step); level 14 moved from 156,768.67 to 304,235.50; level 17 moved from 246,636.91 to 534,594.66; level 17 (highest level consultant) moved from 353, 647.33 to 683,671.60.
On the dismissal of Olaifa Bello, he explained the position of the state government: “Dr Ibrahim Olaifa was employed by the state government and one of the conditions of employment is that as a civil servant, he is barred from giving information to the general public on matters concerning subjects under his purview unless so authorised; and in this particular instance, he was seen on television stoking industrial action”
He said the case of the dismissal was still in court, adding that it would be subjudicial to take any action that might run in the contempt of court. “Lagos state as a law-abiding institution shall act as the court pleases”, he added.
Meanwhile, in line with the saying that when two elephants fight, the grass would suffer, the patients as usual have been groaning in pains since the beginning of the strike.
When the Nigerian Tribune visited the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, patients who had come for treatment were busy lamenting the frequent doctors’ strike, calling both parties to sheathe their swords in the interest of the poor masses who could not afford to go to private hospital.
Mrs Dupe Arowolo, who accompanied her aged father to the hospital was asked to go back home owing to the doctors’ strike. “I am at a loss on what to do now. I am not sure I can afford to take him to a good private hospital. Maybe I will take him home praying that the strike will end soon”, she said.
During the visit of the Lagos State Commissioner for health, Dr Jide Idris, to the hospital on Monday, some patients on sighting him, knelt down and pleaded with him that the government should quickly resolve the strike in the interest of the poor masses.
Responding, Idris said: “it is unfortunate that our colleagues have decided to embark on yet another strike action despite the state government’s recent approval of new salary scale structure. Whatever it is that they are not happy with, government said it will look into it”.
Idris explained that his visit to LASUTH was to find out the areas of need in the hospital and see how to meet these needs in order to cushion the effects of the strike action, adding that the government will do all within its power to ensure that the strike does not last for too long a time.
He noted that the State House of Assembly approved the 2011 budget two weeks ago and the governor gave his accent almost immediately, hence there is the need for the ministry of finance to ensure that all the details are sorted out adding that the full payment of the new salary package will commence next month with full complement of the January arrears.
Said he, “what was paid in January was the old rate and that was because the House recently passed the 2011 budget. Payment of the new salary structure will commence next month when necessary arrears will also be paid”.
Idris stressed that there was no need for the doctors to lose confidence in the state government as the salary review committee set up by the government is not a one-off committee but a committee set up to work continuously to address the welfare of staff.
He noted that his ministry is working with doctors in private employ to ensure that the activities in government-owned hospitals are not totally paralysed just as he assured that activities in medical and surgical emergency are not grounded.Share