The resident doctors are pushing for improved allocation for their training.
Talks between the striking National Association of Resident Doctors, and Labour and Health ministers on Thursday, ended in a deadlock, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.
Ministers of labour and health, Chukwuemeka Wogu and Onyebuchi Chukwu respectively, representatives of the resident doctors, including its president, Jubril Abdullahi, Head Of Service, Bukar Goni Aji; and other officials met from 4p.m. Thurday to 6a.m. Friday.
Yet, they were unable to resolve the contentious issues.
The doctors began an indefinite strike on Tuesday, complaining about the poor funding of residency training of its members by the federal government.
“All we want is for the government to take training of resident doctors as a serious issue, which will eventually be of great benefit to the country,” Mr. Abdullahi said.
A residency training is a structured six to eight-year programme which some doctors undergo in order to become specialists in various fields of medicine.
Only N20 million was allocated for training of resident doctors in the 2013 budget as against N150 million allocated last year, leaving many doctors out of training.
As a result, several institutions missed out on slots for training their doctors. University College Hospital, Ibadan, for instance, got nothing.
“We have asked for a supplementary budget for the training, but the Federal Government has failed to honour our request,” Ismail Lawal, the immediate past president of the doctors’ union said.
Sources said Thursday night’s meeting was tense resulting in a walk out by representatives of the doctors.
President of the union, Mr. Abdullahi however told PREMIUM TIMES that no one walked out although he admitted there was immense tension.
“The problem is that there was so much tension after the meeting. We couldn’t start exchanging words with technical assistants to the minister of health. I don’t want to mention names at this point but they were not helping matters at all. I am talking about the minister’s assistants,” he said.
Part of the union’s grouse is the non-payment of house officers’ allowances as a result of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS). But the ministry said that was illegal since house officers were not government employees.
“A house officer is a medical attache observing a year of training in any teaching hospital, thus can’t be said to be a government employee,” spokesperson to the minister of heatlh, Dan Nwomeh said.
Mr. Nwomeh said the minister of health, Mr Chukwu, had September this year advised that each teaching hospital should forward to the accountant general of the federation how many house officers were being absorbed into their system while their allowances would be sent to the various hospitals in bulk.
This, Mr. Nwomeh said, was accepted by all parties wit the accountant general confirming their money had since been ready for collection.
The doctors also complained about alleged victimization of their members by the Medical Director of the Federal Medical Centre Owerri whom they asked to be removed.
Mr. Nwomeh said the doctors gave only a day’s ultimatum over this matter. “The MD of that hospital must be given fair hearing; it is not normal to drastically ask for the removal of anyone in service without giving room for proper investigation,” he said.
Another demand of the doctors, was for the Enugu state government to implement the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) for resident doctors in Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, Enugu.
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