The Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba (FNPHY), Lagos, has called off the indefinite strike of its members in the institution.
The decision to suspend the strike which began July 31 was announced in a communiqué issued by the association on August 29. It said it decided to suspend the strike at an emergency meeting on August 27.
The strike lasted 29 days. It was called to protest the shortage of resident doctors in the institution.
The association said it called the strike because “we could not continue bearing the moral burden of rendering below par mental services to our teeming patient population vis a vis the prevailing circumstances.”
The industrial action crippled health service delivery in the institution as most of the doctors at tertiary health institutions in Nigeria are resident doctors. FNPHY is one of the eight federal (speciality) psychiatric hospitals in Nigeria.
Resident doctors already have a basic medical degree and are now working on a post-graduate degree.
Before the strike, the doctors held a series of meetings and negotiations with the management. But they said they were “barren negotiations” that yielded no positive response to their demand.
Reason for strike
The association said the strike was due to the refusal of the hospital management to employ more resident doctors.
FNPHY ARD president, Azeez Enifeni, had earlier told PREMIUM TIMES that the sole reason for the strike was the shortage of resident doctors in the institution.
Mr Enifeni said the institution as at the time of the strike had only 33 resident doctors.
He said the shortage of doctors has become a major challenge for service delivery and has increased the workload of the doctors on the ground.
“Doctors have been meeting with the management and governing board over time urging them to employ more doctors but they have not done so.
“Since 2014, there has been no major employment of resident doctors in the institution. Over 40 doctors have left only about 15 have been employed to replace those who left.
“We had about 67 resident doctors in the hospital in 2014, now we have only 33 doctors on ground. This is something that has been going on for a while. This is not acceptable as it is putting a strain on service delivery in the hospital,” he said.
Suspension of strike
Rising from its emergency meeting, the association “noted that despite the repeated pressure, the management of the institution has maintained her initial position that for procedural reasons, she cannot at the moment employ more than five doctors who are already on ground.”
However, it said the management has promised to employ more corps doctors in the interim at the nearest available window.
The communiqué said the management has acknowledged a need for immediate employment of resident doctors and would be putting in extra efforts to make this happen as soon as possible.
“Hence, though additional doctors have not been employed as desired, the association believes the intervention of our patron as well as other eminent individuals is sufficient to make this happen.”
The association said the management must employ at least 10 resident doctors by December, failing which “the association would not be able to guarantee continued industrial harmony“ in the institution.
PREMIUM TIMES was unable to get a reaction from the management of the hospital as at the time of filing this report as calls and text message to the spokesperson of the institution drew no response.