Federal Medical Centre Yenagoa remains shut despite suspension of NMA strike

FMC Yenagoa

The Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa, remained deserted despite the suspension of the 55-day strike by the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA.

Allied health workers in the institution commenced an indefinite strike which paralysed medical leading to the shutdown of the hospital on August 12.

When PREMIUM TIMES visited the hospital on Wednesday, wards, consultation clinics, the pharmacy, laboratories and other departments in the hospital remained closed.

The Bayelsa Chairman of NMA, Israel Jeremiah, said in a telephone interview that doctors in the state had complied with the directive of the NMA national leadership and returned to work on Monday.

He, however, regretted that the ongoing local strike by other health professionals at the Federal Medical Centre was frustrating the efforts of the doctors to restore medical services.

“We are on the same page with the National leadership of NMA. As I talk with you I am at work at the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital and work is on-going. Unfortunately at the FMC, health workers have locked up the place due to the on-going strike of the other health workers who are custodians of the hospital facilities. Our members need to work but the hospital remains. I believe the hospital management will be on top of the situation to bring the workers back to work,” he said.

The Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Ebitimi Etebu, confirmed that medical services were yet to be restored to the health institution even though doctors suspended their strike on Monday.

He said that the strike by other health workers over promotion arrears was unfounded as there was a general funding gap in the health sector that necessitated owing them promotion arrears.

The medical director accused the unions of sabotaging the efforts of the hospital management to restore medical services in the tertiary hospital that serves as a surveillance centre for Ebola virus disease in Bayelsa.

“I have insisted on a meeting with all the hospital workers because their leaders have deliberately been misinforming them and I am waiting for them to fix a meeting before they call off the strike. Some of their demands are totally strange, so I need to explain issues directly to workers. I believe when the workers get the facts straight they will come back to work. The unions have a suspicious agenda,” he said.

However, Simon Bernabas, Coordinator of the Joint Health Sector Unions at FMC Yenagoa said that the hospital management had remained adamant to the demands of the workers.

“There has not been any form of dialogue between the workers’ representatives and the hospital management even though we made it clear that we remained open to dialogue, they simply ignored us. We are aware that our colleagues in other Federal Medical Centres are enjoying some of these allowances we are agitating for, that is why the reason they gave, that it is a national thing, is not convincing at all,” Mr. Bernabas said.


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