The industrial action embarked upon by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to press home their demands for improved welfare is taking its toll on hospitals across the nation.
From Ogun to Delta to Kaduna State, activities in several federal government hospitals have been disrupted, Channels Television correspondents observed.
Resident doctors in some hospitals in Lagos State have also complied with the strike directive.
Channels Television paid a visit to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and the General Hospital, Gbagada, and a few patients were seen hanging around the hospital with some consultants and nurses offering skeletal services.
The President of the Association of Resident Doctors at LUTH, Dr. Oluwafemi Hassan, told Channels Television that the doctors are unlikely to resume until their demands are met.
“We are the largest branch of the Nigeria Association of Resident Doctors and as such the compliance to the strike in LUTH has been excellent,” he said. “As we speak, most of the emergency areas, the wards and every area of the hospital where services are supposed to be delivered are deserted.
“Knowing that LUTH is a referral centre for most general hospitals and private hospitals in Lagos; whether there is a holiday or not, it is usually very busy here. But if you go around, you will see that most places, especially the emergency and the ward, are empty.
“And the few patients in the ward presently are not well taken care of because resident doctors are not around to give care.”
Dr. Hassan said discussions with the government are expected to resume on Tuesday, after the Easter holidays.
“Of course, we are hopeful that all the demands will be addressed so that we can resume as soon as possible,” he said.
The doctors have called for the immediate payment of all salaries owed to all house officers, including March salaries (regardless of quota system).
They have also demanded the immediate payment of all salary arrears, including March salaries for members in all Federal (GIFMIS platform) and State Tertiary Health Institutions across the country, especially ASUTH, IMSUTH, and UNIMEDTH.
NARD is also seeking an upward review of the current hazard allowance to 50 percent of consolidated basic salaries of all health workers and payment of the outstanding COVID-19 inducement allowance, especially in state-owned-tertiary Institutions.
They are calling for the abolishment of the exorbitant bench fees being paid by their members on outside postings in all training institutions across the country with immediate effect.
According to the doctors, salary shortfalls of 2014, 2015, and 2016 should be paid to their members in all federal institutions, including state-owned institutions as earlier agreed with the government.
Among other demands, they have also asked for the payment of insurance for all health workers who died as a result of COVID-19 infection or other infectious diseases in the country.
‘No Work, No Pay’
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has threatened that it will implement ‘no work, no pay’ if the striking doctors refuse to resume after discussions.
Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Friday, Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said he expects such a decision is backed by law.
“By Tuesday, I will invite them back,” he said. “If they become recalcitrant, there are other things I can do. There are weapons in the Labour Laws, I will invoke them. There is no work, no pay.
“Their employers have a role also to keep their business afloat, to keep patients alive. They can employ local doctors. We won’t get there but if we are going to get there, we will use that stick.”