Doctors at the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital (COUUTH), Awka have said there was no going back on the Nov. 30 deadline to embark on an indefinite strike if their demands were not met by Anambra Government.
Some of the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) members who spoke to newsmen anonymously said nobody should blame them for the impending shutdown and its consequences on the public health sector in Anambra.
It will be recalled that the MDCAN, COOUTH Chapter, had on Nov. 5 issued an ultimatum that it would embark on indefinite strike on Nov. 30 over non-implementation of Consolidated Medical Salary Scale (CONMESS) without further negotiations.
According to the notice signed by Dr Chukwudi Okani and Prof. Obiora Ejiofor, its chairman and secretary, the MDCAN members have shown maturity and patience for four months in spite of being promised that the issues will be resolved
in one month.
The doctors who spoke journalists on Thursday said they were surprised that four months after a panel was set up in July to resolve the issues, there had yet to see the content of the report or its implementation.
“MDCAN has taken a position in the matter, remember there was a promise to increase our salary on April 1, which made it to embark on strike in June but because the government pleaded we had to call it off.
“In July a panel was set up but up till now nothing has been heard on its report, that is why we issued strike notice on Nov. 6, that come Nov. 30, we shall stop work indefinitely.
“That strike is avoidable but only payment of CONMESS can stop it; I am glad the governor is back from travel, I want to beg him to act and help prevent the negative effects this strike will have on public health in Anambra.
“The morale in COOUTH is low, our nurses and other health workers are grumbling over the non-implementation of CONMESS but they are not talking, it is important that the public know some of these things,” the source said.
When contacted, Okani said the Nov. 30 deadline remained and there had not been any communication between MDCAN and Anambra Government since the notice was issued.
He said it would not be correct to say that nothing was being done by the government toward meeting their demands and expressed the hope that the strike would be averted by the implementation of CONMESS.
The chairman said the demand was for better healthcare sector in the state as medical workers and patients would benefit if there were improved working conditions and equipment.
“We have not been communicated but I cannot categorically say that the government is not doing anything because I wouldn’t know if they are working underground.
“The hospital is not patient-friendly, we don’t have enough doctors to attend to patients; doctors come and before you know it, they have left,” he said.
Mr C-Don Adinuba, Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, had appealed to the doctors to shelve their threat as the government was looking into it.
Adinuba confirmed that the panel report was ready and would receive the attention of Gov. Willie Obiano who was out of the country whenever he returned.
“I appeal to MDCAN to exercise patience so that the governor who is out of the country can act on the report when he returns in the next few days.
“There is a report which has been submitted to the government for the governor to go through, things like that are not sent by e-mail,” he said.