Doctors working in hospitals owned by the Federal Government announced on Thursday that they will embark on a sympathy strike, in a show of support for the 788 doctors fired by the Lagos State Government.
In a shocking move, Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos state fired the huge number of medical practitioners after they refused to answer queries given to them for embarking on a three-day warning strike.
The Lagos state doctors went on strike in April, under the aegis of the Medical Guild, and brought medical activities in state hospitals to a grinding halt after they failed to reach an agreement with the state govenment over payment of salaries.
State doctors are insisting that Lagos state fully implement the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS), a matter that has long been a bone of contention between medical practitioners and the governement that employs them.
When both sides refused to reach an agreeable compromise, the State government, two weeks ago, sacked the 788 doctors and employed over 300 more to replace them, a move that the doctors are still challenging.
They are not alone. Dr. Adetunji Adenekan, President of the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) with the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), announced in a news conference that the sacked striking doctors has the support of the ARD.
Dr. Adenekan said doctors in Federal Government hospitals will embark on the strike, under the aegis of the Nigerian Medical Association, Lagos State chapter.
The ARD boss said the Lagos State government’s refusal to compromise or negotiate with the doctors, and opting to sack them instead, was a heavy-handed reaction that showed little regard for the rule of law.
“The ARD-LUTH having followed these events closely from the beginning will like to state that these draconian actions of the Lagos State Government are unacceptable by any standard.
“We view the attitude of the government as an insult on doctors, the medical profession and patients,” Adenekan said.
He further stated that the government’s actions have only served to worsen the workload and pressure on other working doctors and hospitals.
“By sacking a total of 788 doctors, the state has succeeded in increasing the patients-doctors ratio to 50,000 to one.
“On this note, the ARD-LUTH as an affiliate body of the NMA, has resolved to stand totally with our parent body – NMA – by complying fully with its directive on this strike,” he said.
The Federal Government hospitals will continue to function in part, Adenekan assured. He said patients already in the hospitals will continue to receive treatment, but emergency units will be locked, clinics closed and no new patients admitted.
Adeneken urged members of the association to comply with the strike plans and assured that the NMA will continue to work with the government to assure an amicable solution is reached.
He said that while he respects the oath to save lives, the public ought to support the doctors in their bid to revamp the health care system.