Five days after the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, suspended its strike, resident doctors in the Federal Government-owned hospitals in Lagos State have not been allowed to resume work.
This followed the insistence of the Federal Government to sack the resident doctors in view of their roles in the NMA’s nationwide strike that lasted 55 days.
The Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, had on August 13 announced the sack of all resident doctors and stoppage of the residency training until further notice.
Mr. Chukwu said the suspension of the residency programme would not be lifted until the conclusion of the ongoing appraisal of the challenges in the nation’s health sector.
The President, Association of Resident Doctors, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH Chapter, Omojowolo Olubunmi, said the doctors stayed away because of government’s refusal to reinstate the sacked doctors.
He said some resident doctors, who reported for duty were turned back on the orders of the Chief Medical Directors, CMD, of the respective hospitals.
“The CMDs claimed that they have yet to receive circular from the Federal Ministry of Health directing them to reverse the Federal Government’s sacking of the doctors,” Mr. Olubunmi said.
He said resident doctors constituted majority of all doctors in the country.
“Resident doctors constitute the majority; we are the backbone of the nation’s healthcare system.
“In LUTH, we have about 500 resident doctors and that is about 30 per cent of all healthcare workers in the hospital.
“This has gravely affected services within the hospital because the consultants can only render skeletal services with the help of the house officers.
“It will further worsen the palpable state of our healthcare delivery,” he told the News Agency of Nigeria.
Mr. Olubunmi said residency training was pivotal to the existence and running of a teaching hospital.
“Residency training is the soul of a teaching hospital and without resident doctors there cannot be residency and no consultants.
“Resident doctors are doctors undergoing postgraduate training, they can also render specialist care to the patients.
“If you come to the teaching hospital, the first set of doctors that you will see are the resident doctors.
“We also have senior registrars that act in the place of a consultant and are involved in the training of medical and non-medical students .’’
Also speaking, Ramon Kolade-Moronkola, the Secretary-General of LUTH-ARD, said residency programme provided citizens’ access to specialists’ care.
“Residency training is a conveyor belt that ensures that doctors eventually become specialists as consultants and this is the norm all over the world.
“This is a norm to ensure that citizens have access to specialists’ care.
“The citizens will mostly bear the brunt without the availability of resident doctors.
“When you produce a specialist that ensures the highest level of healthcare delivery,” he said.
He said residency training had also attracted foreign exchange into the country and prevented medical tourism.
“It prevents citizens from seeking healthcare abroad and check unnecessary wastages through medical tourism.’’
Also, Olusegun Akinwotu, the President of the association at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, said the sacking of the doctors would affect the quality of services.
When contacted, Akin Oshibogun, the LUTH CMD, said: “Please refer your questions to the Minister of Health on this issue.”
The National Industrial Court, NIC, had on August 25 restrained the Federal Government through the CMDs of the 37 medical institutions from terminating the appointments of the resident doctors.
The suit was adjourned till September 17 for hearing of the motion on notice.