Resident Doctors Call Emergency NEC Meeting, May Suspend Strike
By Our Correspondent
The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Government in an effort to end the ongoing strike.
NARD commenced a five-day warning strike on May 17 to press home its demands after a 14-day ultimatum to the government lapsed.
The doctors are demanding an immediate increment in the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure to the tune of 200 per cent of their current gross salaries.
They also want massive recruitment of clinical staff in hospitals and an immediate withdrawal of the bill seeking to compel medical and dental graduates to render five-year compulsory services in Nigeria before being granted full licences to practice, among others.The doctors on Friday met with the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Health and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, to deliberate on their demands.
According to NARD, its National Executive Council will decide on the timelines set in the content of the MoU.
Speaking with our correspondent on Saturday, the NARD President, Dr Emeka Orji, said, “We have heard the position of the government and we have told them the position of NARD, and we discussed. They told us what they can do and what they cannot do, and why they can’t do those things with timelines, and we signed.
“So, we will take back what the government offered to the NEC to accept or reject it and give further directives. Part of the MoU is that NARD will call its NEC in the next 48 hours and brief them on the outcome for them to decide.”
Meanwhile, the strike, which commenced on Wednesday, continued on Saturday, with medical services hampered in federal hospitals across the country, with hospitals having to make adjustments to their schedules to accommodate as many patients as possible.
A News Agency of Nigeria correspondent, who visited Federal Medical Centre, Jabi, Abuja, found that patients were still being attended to.
Nurses were seen at their duty posts, while the various departments were also attending to patients as best as they could.
Speaking about the measures employed to cushion the effect of the absence of the resident doctors, the Head of Clinical Services, FMC, Jabi, Dr Joseph Eziechila, said though service delivery was not as it should be, the hospital would not shut down.
He added that the management had to think out of the box to keep the facility running.
Eziechila stated, “We had to think out of the box on how to maintain services. Resident doctors are the bedrock of healthcare delivery because they are more in number.
“Here, we have close to 100 consultants, but the resident doctors, youth corps members and others will number like 350; so, they are the main workforce.
“When patients visit the hospital, they are the first point of contact before you call the consultants if there are issues.
“However, what we did in this case is that we have some youth corps doctors and we still have a few locum doctors; we have house officers who are not part of the strike, and we have principal medical officers.
“So, as much as we can, we try to make use of these people to keep services and the emergencies running, as well as some other points of service delivery so that the hospital is not completely shut down.”
He said that the situation had caused the consultants to do some extra work.
Eziechila added, “Though it is a short strike, we have to mobilise all the consultants. In the outpatient clinic, we have to mobilise all the consultants to work outside their normal schedule.
“If you get there now, we have like four of the consultants at the same time; the consultants running specialist clinics also run their clinics on their own.
“Where it becomes a problem is if the strike is prolonged; but I had to call a meeting with the departments to appeal to them to go the extra mile for this very short time.”
Ezeichila, however, said that the hospital did not have an influx of patients as before, adding that news of the strike automatically reduced the high rate of hospital visits by patients.
A visit to Maitama District Hospital, Abuja, also revealed that patients were being attended to.
The number of patients has, however, reduced as only a handful was seen accessing care.