Patients groan as resident doctors begin strike


  • UNIOSUN doctors shelve action as Adeleke meets demands
Uba Group


Medical services to patients were, on Wednesday, disrupted at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, following the nationwide warning strike declared by the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors to protest the inability of the Federal Government to implement pending agreements with doctors.

Consequently, patients in public hospitals have again asked the Federal Government to consider the demands of the medical doctors.

“Whatever the problem is, we will just ask that the government and the resident doctors should come to a compromise for the sake of the people of this country. They should definitely call off the strike without even suspending it,” a patient said.

“Look at the patients waiting, just a doctor and since I came, just two persons have been attended to and the people waiting are more than 20. In fact, I saw a patient just now, she was booked on an appointment today, she had to go back and had to rebook for tomorrow because there is only one doctor that is on seat,” he added.

Another patient who spoke under the condition of anonymity insisted that the decay in the medical system of the country was due to leaders who “don’t care.”

“Many of our leaders don’t stay here to take care of their medical needs, that is why they are not worried about it. They are not working for us, that is the way I look at it. The people are suffering, a lot of medical issues will need the doctors to be working,” she said.

President of NARD, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, David Orhewere, said that the strike, which commenced at 8am on Wednesday, would linger till 8am on Monday, May 22, 2023.

Orhewere, however, explained that those not in critical conditions were discharged prior to the commencement of the industrial action so that the consultants can take proper care of those patients critically ill.

“The situation of UBTH is calm. We are in full compliance with the strike. As it stands now, we are residents in training and the patients are under consultants and that is why we actually met yesterday to properly inform our consultants so that they will take responsibility for the patients.

“Prior to this warning strike, we had given a two-week ultimatum for the issues to be attended to, which expired last Friday,” Orhewere said.

He listed some of their demands to include manpower shortage, infrastructural development and remuneration increment in the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) to the tune of 200 per cent of the current gross salary of doctors as well as payment of Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF) for 2023.

He warned that if there was no commitment from the government, the national executive council of NARD would meet to decide on the next move.

The five-day warning strike of doctors under the aegis of the National Association of Resident Doctors, which started on Wednesday, recorded full compliance in Bayelsa State as its members working at the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa and the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, Okolobiri stayed away from their duty posts.

The President of NARD at the FMC, Yenagoa, Dr. Romeo Mbooh, and President of the state-owned NDUTH, Dr. Remember Namara, said this on Wednesday.

They said their members were actively participating in the warning strike in compliance with the directive of the national body.

It was gathered that only consultants and nurses were rendering skeletal medical services in some departments and wards at the two health facilities.


“We are fully in compliance with the strike, yes we are fully in compliance,” Namara said.

On his part, Mbooh said, “The strike in FMC Yenagoa is total. It is just that consultants are attending to patients. If consultants were part of the strike it would have been much more total. But even though consultants are seeing patients, at the level of NARD, it is total.

“We have done a lot of monitoring, we’ve gone round departments and we saw a lot of our colleagues handing over patients; discharging patients because sometimes, consultants may not be around and they (resident doctors) need to quickly discharge those patients, and possibly referral so that they will not have a lot of morbidities. So while doing that, you can say that there is 90 per cent compliance with the strike.”

He described the warning strike as unfortunate, stressing that “ordinarily,  it ought not to have occurred if it is a system where things are working.”

A visit to Asokoro District Hospital, Abuja, showed that doctors were attending to patients.

Dr. Chidi Nnabuchi, former Head of Clinical Services said the hospital would not shut down, but would operate based on available capacity.

He said emergency care would be offered where necessary, but could not ascertain if patients would be placed on admission. Number of out-patients seeking attention would also be reduced.

He explained that this would be so because only medical consultants, NYSC and in-house doctors would be attending to patients.

“We have few doctors that are corps members; they are not part of the strike. Some others are in local employment.

“They are on ground to handle emergencies and treat patients in the wards,” he added.

UNIOSUN doctors shelve strike as government meets demands

Meanwhile, resident medical doctors of the Osun State University Teaching Hospital, Osogbo have shunned the ongoing national warning strike.

According to a statement issued on Wednesday by Olawale Rasheed, the spokesperson for the state governor, Ademola Adeleke, the decision of the members of the members of the National Association of Resident Doctors to shelve the industrial action was arrived at during a closed door meeting with Governor Adeleke where the 12 years demands of the doctors were approved by the state governor.

“At the meeting, attended by the leadership of the medical union and management of the teaching hospital, Governor Adeleke approved with immediate effect the payment of hazard allowance for clinical and non-clinical workers in the service of the state teaching hospital.

“The Governor also approved payment of a percentage of residency training allowance for residency doctors for the same hospital on an annual basis,” the statement read.

The statement disclosed that Adeleke, while reacting to the presentation of the President of the medical union, Dr. John Ojo, directed that all other operational issues raised by the union should be looked into with immediate effect.

“He however charged the medical workers to reciprocate the gesture of the state government by re-dedicating themselves to excellent service delivery.

“Elated resident doctors at the meeting jubilated and appreciated the Governor for fulfilling a 12-year-old dream of the resident doctors,” Rasheed said.

Negotiations ongoing – FG

Also, the Federal Government has said that negotiations are ongoing with stakeholders over the five-day warning strike embarked upon by members of the National Association of Resident Doctors on Wednesday.

Fielding questions from newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday, Director, Public Health, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Morenike Alex-Okoh, said the strike was of concern to the government.

“The situation with the doctors’ strike is of concern to the government and the negotiations have been ongoing. We will continue under the circumstances, so, I cannot give you any conclusive response now.

“However, the government, the leadership of the ministry and relevant stakeholders are meeting to resolve the situation as quickly as possible,’’ she said.

NARD served notice on the Federal Government on Tuesday warning that it could not guarantee further industrial harmony should the government fail to address issues raised before May 29.

NARD’s letter titled, “Notice of Strike Action’’, was signed jointly by its National President, Dr. Innocent Orji and Secretary-General, Dr. Chikezie Kelechi.

They stated that NARD had issued a two-week ultimatum to the Federal Government to resolve issues as contained in the ultimatum before its expiration on May 13.

Tuesday’s letter read in part: “Regrettably the issues have remained unresolved despite several attempts by NARD to get the government to resolve them.

“Rising from her Extra-Ordinary Meeting on Monday, May 15, NARD’s National Executive Council resolved to embark on a five-day warning strike beginning on May 17.’’

The doctors are demanding an immediate increment in the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure to the tune of 200 per cent of current gross salaries of doctors.

NARD is also demanding the immediate withdrawal of the Bill seeking to compel medical and dental graduates to serve compulsorily in Nigeria for five years before getting full licences to practice.

It also wants immediate domestication of the Medical Residency Training Act and a review of Hazard Allowance by state governments.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, had on Tuesday, relayed the Federal Government’s warning to the association to shelve the strike.

He issued the warning shortly after receiving a letter of notification from the NARD executive on the planned strike.

In a statement signed by the Director, Press and Public Relations in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Olajide Oshundun, the minister said the planned strike was illegal.

“There is nothing like a warning strike. A strike is a strike. If they want to take that risk, the options are there. They have the right to strike. You cannot deny them that right.

“Their employer has another right under Section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act, however, to withhold their pay for those five days.

“If the NARD has strike funds to pay its members for those five days, no problem.

“The health minister will instruct teaching hospitals to employ ad-hoc people for those five days and use the money of the people who went on strike to pay the ad-hoc doctors,’’ Ngige said.

Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria, the President of NARD, Dr. Innocent Orji, said that members were still awaiting the Federal Government’s call for negotiations.

“I am still in my hotel room now and I have not received any call to come to the table to discuss the strike.

“We also heard that the government is planning a ‘no work, no pay’ strategy, but our position is that it should resolve issues raised because that is the only way to avoid escalation.

“Issuing threats will definitely worsen the problem. If no work and no pay is implemented, our members will determine how we will handle it.

“Going by that route will escalate the problem because it means that the government is not ready to address the issues we have raised and will rather give punitive measures.

“Our members will decide and give us further directives, but no one should blame us if they decide to escalate the strike,’’ he said