The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) says it is directing all corps doctors nationwide to bridge service delivery gaps created by the strike of resident doctors.
Mrs Bose Aderibigbe, the NYSC Director of Press, told newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday that the circular was issued to remind corps doctors of their responsibilities to the nation.
She said the scheme asked the youth corps medical doctors to remain in their places of primary assignment and duty to provide needed healthcare service.
The spokesperson said this became necessary in order to reduce the impact of the strike on healthcare service delivery.
Aderibigbe said the scheme was always ready to support and complement Federal Government efforts, adding that no corps doctor was involved in the strike.
“We are sending out a circular to all corps doctors to ensure they are up and doing in their work and try their best in providing the necessary healthcare service delivery to citizens.
“Corps members generally are not supposed to be involved in any form of strike.
“So a circular is already being issued now that all corps doctors should be on standby and complement the absence of resident doctors who are currently on an indefinite strike,” Aderibigbe said.
Newsmen report that Prof. Isaac Adewole, the Minister of Health, had on Monday directed Medical Directors of all federal government hospitals to ensure that consultants and NYSC doctors are on duty to provide health services.
Dr Arikawe Adeolu, a member of the National Executive Council of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), said resident doctors accounted for about 80 per cent of the total medical workforce in the country.
Adeolu, who is also the General Secretary, NARD, Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Jabi, Abuja, said their absence at hospitals would have a huge and significant impact at the level of service delivery.
He explained that the association of resident doctors included doctors such as medical officers and house officers who were below the rank of a consultant; stating that this excluded corps members, medical directors and nurses.
“Usually when resident doctors go on strike, the consultants together with corps members try to keep the hospitals running but one cannot deny that a significant workforce in the health sector will be absent.
“The current demands being made by the association include improving the welfare of doctors.
“Some doctors are owed salaries while others do not receive complete salaries; they are paid just about 40 per cent of their total salary.
“Our other demands are that resident doctors should be captured in the pension scheme; their work is pensionable but for some reason they are being excluded from the scheme.
“The other demand is that doctors are not being put in their appropriate grade level and we are asking for this to be corrected.
“We have been discussing these issues with the Federal Government since 2013; we have tried to use diplomacy but up till now we are yet to see any commitment on the part of government to make things better.
“We therefore decided to embark on an indefinite strike. Before we went on strike we gave the government a 21-day ultimatum which ended about two weeks ago within that period government did not do anything to try and resolve the matter.
“Another two weeks passed after the 21-day ultimatum yet nothing was done until just before Sallah when they said they wanted to send another Memorandum of terms of settlement,” Adeolu said.
He said that the association however rejected the memorandum as it did not specify when the government would fulfil its part.
According to him, the memorandum did not hold as much weight as the previous ones they had signed with us; the previous memorandum had specific dates when they will fulfil the requests but this one had no date.
He said the association felt that the federal government was not taking its requests seriously and decided it needed to embark on a strike.
He said that the association tried at various times to negotiate and advocate to the government to meet its demands to no avail.
“We have a minimum demand which is that doctors should be enrolled in the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) which is the payment platform for government.
“Another issue has to do with the placement of house officers on the appropriate grade level should be carried out.
“Other demands are that doctors who are being owed arrears of salaries from 2014 should be paid. Medical centres that have been experiencing shortfall in the payment of salaries of personnel should be corrected.
“These are the matters we have placed before the federal government and we know that they can be resolved so that the strike can be called off,” Adeolu said.
The scribe hinted that calling off the strike would depend on the outcome of Wednesday’s meeting with the Ministers of Health and Labour.
He said that if the strike was called off the association would continue to negotiate and advocate with the federal government to meet its other demands of drawing up a template for residency training programme.
Adeolu said the association also sought for the federal government investment in health facilities nationwide so that doctors could have better equipment to work with to deliver better services to patients.
Newsmen report that the nationwide indefinite strike commenced on Monday.