By Dennis Agbo
Striking Resident Doctors of Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, ESUT-TH, has told the state government to forget threats and blackmail to comply with long-negotiated salary structure, in other to save lives and deescalate crisis in the state health sector.
Public Relations Officer of Association of Resident Doctors, ARD ESUT-TH chapter, Dr. Christian Okanya gave the advice, Monday, while responding to the state government’s position on the five days warning strike embarked upon by the doctors last Saturday.
The state government through the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health, Dr. Ifeanyi Ajujiobi had condemned the strike, saying it was unpatriotic embarked upon in bad faith and an unpatriotic action.
Agujiobi said that the resident doctors did not give the government up to 24 hours notice before embarking on the strike, adding that the state government does not owe the doctors any monthly salary, even as it has added minimum wage and upward consequential adjustment to the striking doctors.
READ ALSO: Coronavirus: With centres in Kano, Rivers, Enugu, Lagos, FCT, we’re prepared — Ihekweazu, NCDC DG
Agujiobi further disclosed that management of the hospital has been asked to turn in a comprehensive list of all Resident doctors in the hospital “to enable management to evaluate the tenancy of their residency training program as some of them have actually overstayed their duration as contained in their appointment letters.”
The PRO of ESUT-TH ARD, Dr. Okanya, however, clarified that they embarked on the present second warning strike after giving the Enugu State Government 24 hours notice, in addition to the over one year notice following the first warning strike on November 28, 2018, at the expiration of a 21-day ultimatum issued to the State Government on October 9, 2018.
“During that first warning strike, the State Government continued to make promises, which made the Association suspend the industrial action and not embark on an indefinite industrial action, just to give the state government ample time to gazette and implement their numerous promises to the Association.
“Between 2018 and now, the ARD ESUT-TH has written and met several times with the State Government, to appeal to the government to honour her promises; the parent body of the Association, the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors wrote a compelling appeal letter, asking the Enugu State government, to commence the process of implementation of 100 per cent Corrected Consolidated Medical Salary Scale (CONMESS), as is obtainable in all Federal Tertiary Health Institutions (FTHIs), and many State Tertiary Health Institutions (STHIs).
“The last negotiations with the Enugu State Government held on November 15, 2019, during which the State Government set up yet another committee to finally solve the perennial salary problems of the Association. The impact of that latest Committee is yet to be felt,” Okanya retorted.
He further said that they also wrote to the government on November 19, 2019, asking to put doctors in Parklane at par with doctors in FTHIs and many STHIs, by paying 100 per cent corrected CONMESS in other to reduce the incessant exodus of resident doctors from the hospital, which he said has caused a nose-dive in health care delivery in ESUT-TH Parklane.
“It is rather sad that the Enugu State Government has continuously refused to honour her promises, resorting to threats and intimidation.
We strongly appeal to the Enugu State Government not to pursue further escalation, but to remain committed to finally resolving the protracted problems facing doctors in ESUT-TH Parklane.
“The State Government should abandon its threat to sack members of the Association, who have sacrificed their precious years and lives in caring for the health and well being of the good people of Enugu State.
“Doctors in ESUT-TH Parklane have been at the forefront of the burdensome healthcare delivery to the teeming number of patients in Enugu state. They are paid almost half of what their contemporaries are paid, both within and outside the state
“However, we have remained poised in delivering quality health care to the good people of Enugu State, even in the face of Lassa fever and Corona Virus outbreaks.
We regret the inconveniences and sufferings this preventable second strike action might be causing the good people of Enugu State. The end of this crisis lies squarely in the hands of the Enugu State Government,” Okanya stated.