Enugu doctors embark on strike despite coronavirus panic

By AdvocateNews on 01/03/2020

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Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi

Amidst panic over the detection of coronavirus in the country, resident doctors of the   Enugu State University Teaching Hospital on Saturday embarked on a five-day warning strike to press home their demand for an enhanced pay package.

Many residents of Enugu have criticized the timing of the strike at this time of national emergency.

The leadership of the resident doctors declined to respond to questions on the coronavirus epidemic.

But president of the Association of Resident Doctors, ARD ESUT-TH, Dr. Chima Edoga, who spoke on the strike appealed to patients to understand   their plight which he said they have managed for over four years.

Edoga stated that it is the wish of the doctors to make the hospital a center of excellence, but noted that it is only when manpower is retained that the hospital could achieve the desired dream.

He said that the Resident Doctors deliberated extensively on their work conditions and patient care before arriving at the difficult decision.

According to them, there is a shortage  of doctors in ESUT-TH   as a result of continual mass exodus of doctors, despite genuine efforts made by the State Government and the Management of ESUT-TH to replace them.

The ARD ESUT- TH noted that there has been over-burdening of doctors who chose to remain and care for the people, with some doctors having to take daily call duties for months, at the expense of their own health, personal and family lives.

They said that as a result there is a drop in the quality of care given to the patients.

The doctors said their reasons for embarking on the warning strike include “Perennial poor salary and emoluments vis-à-vis non-implementation of the Corrected Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) with consequential minimum wage adjustments for doctors working in ESUT-TH Parklane as is obtainable in all Federal Tertiary Health Institutions (FTHIs) and many State Tertiary Health Institutions (STHIs).

“STHIs in neighbouring states like Anambra (COOUTH) and Imo (IMSUTH) have made giant strides in this regard. The recent increase in our salaries by the state government, though well appreciated, will not suffice.”

Edoga said there was failure of all diplomatic channels and negotiations with the Enugu State Government to address the challenges and ensure continuous delivery of standard health care services to its citizenry.

“Consequently, ARD ESUT-TH Parklane, in a unanimous decision, resolved to embark on a 5-day warning strike, starting on Saturday, February 29, 2020 at 8am to resume work on Thursday, March 5, 2020 by 8am, unless the State Government immediately implements the Corrected Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) with consequential minimum wage adjustments for doctors working in ESUT-TH Parklane as is obtainable in all Federal Tertiary Health Institutions (FTHIs) and many State Tertiary Health Institutions (STHIs) in Nigeria,” Edoga said.

He disclosed that the Congress of ARD ESUT-TH Parklane will re-convene after the warning strike, give notice of and proceed on an indefinite industrial action if the Government does to meet their demand.

Enugu government reacts....

ARD ESUTH PARKLANE HOSPITAL STRIKE - PUTTING THE RECORDS STRAIGHT:

The Enugu State Government received with dismay, news making the rounds that the ESUTH ARD Doctors have proceeded on a 5-day warning strike. This is ill-timed, malicious, condemnable and not done in good faith. More so, it completely contradicts the creeds of the Hippocratic Oath which they swore to uphold.

The striking resident doctors are well aware there are patients given free medical and surgical treatment from a recent medical outreach organized by an American NGO - the Faith Care Foundation, in collaboration with U-TOFL - an indigenous NGO, at ESUTH Parklane Hospital, that were supposed to be followed up but are now left unattended to as a consequence of this unreasonable and highly unpatriotic action.

There are also patients in the wards that are hurriedly being discharged and may have attendant complications with poor health outcomes.

It is worrisome to note fact that this action is coming at such a time the Federal Government of Nigeria and various state governments are grappling with the challenge of the new Corona Virus outbreak.

It is expected that a notice of the purported strike should have been given at least 24 hours or more to Enugu State Government which was never done and this runs contrary to labour laws on strike actions. Worse, all the key officials of ARD ESUTH PARKLANE HOSPITAL have since remained incommunicado as their phones are switched off.

More worrisome is the fact that the state government has not owed any of the doctors their monthly salaries and the doctors are comparatively well cared for. For instance, last month, (February) salary was paid on Saturday, 22nd of February, 2020, with the new minimum wage and the upward consequential adjustment.

It is pertinent to note that in just 48hours to this strike, the entire workers in Enugu State embarked on a road march from the state secretariat to the Government House, Enugu, to thank His Excellency, the Governor of Enugu State -  Rt. Hon. Dr Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, for keeping faith with his promise and paying Enugu State civil servants the new minimum wage with the striking doctors receiving their fair share.

Discussion on further enhancement of the welfare of doctors and other health care personnel at ESUTH Parklane Hospital is being looked into by a committee set up by the His Excellency, even when the Management of ESUTH Parklane Hospital has been asked to turn in the comprehensive list of all resident doctors in the hospital.

This would enable Management evaluate the TENANCY of their residency training program as some of them have actually overstayed their duration as contained in their appointment letters/guideline for the residency program so as to know the actual number of doctors in training that the State Government is dealing with.

It's imperative to also note that the Enugu State Government secured accreditation in some relevant departments and is poised to see that the hospital is placed at an enviable position compared to other State training institutions in the region. This was made possible by the State Government's unrelenting commitment to the health sector and State Executive Council’s approvals made recently in several facets as requested by the management of ESUTH Parklane Hospital.

We therefore advise all doctors in ESUTH Parklane Hospital to be at their duty posts so as not to abscond from their civic responsibilities. And any loss of life or complications arising from this unlawful action at ESUTH Parklane Hospital will be seriously dealt with as the Enugu State Government will take it head-on with the management of ESUTH Parklane Hospital and the managing team/unit of the occasioned patient.

We implore the general public and good people of Enugu State to also be aware that our General Hospitals at Nsukka, Enugu Ezike, Udi, Agbani, Awgu, Ikem, Uwani as well as the Poly General Hospital Enugu are now well equipped and ready to take medical consultations and treatment by our medical and health personnel.

Finally, we still encourage everyone to observe basic universal health precautions and personal hygiene in this wake of National Public Health emergencies.

Signed

Dr. Ifeanyi Agujiobi

Permanent Secretary

For: Hon. Commissioner for Health

Posted 01/03/2020 11:19:14 PM

 

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