By Chioma Obinna & Gabriel Olawale
LAGOS—TOUGH times await patients seeking healthcare services in Lagos state-owned hospitals as medical doctors under the employment of the government yesterday gave notice of possible mass exit due to what they called the administration’s insensitivity to their plight.
Findings by Vanguard showed that about 810 doctors have left the service within two years. In Ikorodu General Hospital alone, about 30 have left in the last one year. The story is not different in other health facilities across the state.
The doctors under the auspices of Medical Guild claimed that most of them have been stagnated and denied promotion for over 13 years and counting.
They also alleged that the state government has refused to implement what they described as the “readjusted Consolidated Medical Salary Scale,’’ CONMESS, for Medical and Dental Practitioners agreed on in 2014.
The Guild raised concern that the development in the state service has also resulted in brain drain.
According to them, the situation is so bad that even the newly employed doctors who are supposed to make up for the shortage in the system, leave almost immediately.
Confirming the situation to Vanguard in a telephone chat in Lagos, the Chairman of the Medical Guild, Dr. Saliu Oseni said even in the hospital where he practises, Ikorodu, not fewer than 30 doctors have left since this year, aside from those who retired from the service.
“There is shortage of medical doctors in the state. The bad situation whereby a doctor sees over 80 patients per clinic, will be worsened by continuous exit due to lack of promotion.”
Oseni listed the grievances to include; discouragement from further training, through non promotion of those who proceed on such.
“Stagnation, demotion and loss of seniority in service are usually visited on those who go for further training,’’ he added.
“We have an officer that joined the service in 1996 and he is going to retire next year on level 14, that means, he has only enjoyed two promotions since he joined the service while his contemporaries are on salary grade level 17 for four years now. We looked through the rules and realised that they say that these people should enjoy their promotions while in training but the system just decided to deprive them of that benefit.
“Currently we have more than 32 doctors that are directly affected by this inhuman action, if government continue to discourage doctors from acquiring knowledge someone can imagine the implication on the patients.”
Non implementation of adjusted CONMESS
Oseni further explained that the situation is made worse by government’s refusal to implement agreed Consolidated Medical Salary Scale for Medical and Dental practitioners which was formulated in 2014.
According to him, the correction in salary was made due to certain anomalies in respect to relativity between salaries of doctors and other health workers.
“But in Lagos today, the basic salary of other health workers and that of the doctors are the same. Meanwhile, it was in the ratio of 4 to 2 to 1 that is 4 for doctors 2 to pharmacists and 1 for nurses but they negotiated down to 3-2-1, 3 to doctors 2 to pharmacists and 1 to nurses.”
“The relativity currently in the scale now gave the doctors and other health workers the same basic salary and that has been corrected by the adjusted CONMESS circular but Lagos has refused to implement it for doctors.”
“All we want is to be paid the way they are paying other doctors in Nigeria; all what is listed for other doctor in Nigeria should also be given to us as in the adjusted CONMESS circular. Officers who go on training should be given their due promotions, rights and should equally be given their appropriate position when they return to service,” he added.
Efforts to reach the State Commissioner for Health proved abortive as several calls put to his telephone line were not picked.
When contacted, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Steve Ayorinde said he will react at the appropriate time. “I cannot comment at the moment, let me cross check some of the issues they raised and we are going to make our position known.”