The Delta State University Teaching Hospital Board Chairman, Dr. Chris Oghenechuvwe has concluded plans to sack all consultants and resident doctors of Delta State University Teaching Hospital (DELSUTH), Oghara.
Dr. Chris ordered the doctors to resume work within 72 hours or risk losing their jobs. The deadline expires today 2nd September, 2016.
It would be recalled that the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN), DELSUTH Chapter had embarked on an industrial action to press home a series of demands that bothers on inadequate facilities and consumables to work with in the hospital, the continued drainage of the scarce resources of the State to pay 50 million Naira per month to the 17 diaspora health workers, the intention to renew the diaspora contract after it terminates in October and the appointment of a diaspora Chief Medical Director who would be paid an upwards of 5 million Naira per month.
Other demands of the consultants include payment of their hospital allowances, circularization of the entry point of new consultants and implementation of skipping for doctors as was done for other non-doctors in the hospital.
Investigations revealed that before embarking on the industrial action, the consultants had patiently exhausted all avenues to seek government intervention in addressing their concerns, but these efforts proved abortive.
The Chairman of the Association, Dr. Obiabo Yahaya said that it is on record that in the past 5 years the consultants had never embarked on any local industrial action in the hospital. Furthermore, he said that MDCAN had at the commencement of the tenure of this current government in 2015 presented a letter through the Commissioner for Health, Sir (Dr.) Nicholas Azinge to his Excellency the Governor of Delta State, Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa detailing several issues concerning the administration of the hospital, funding for the hospital and welfare of staff. In the same letter MDCAN had appealed to government to look at the issues raised in order to foster industrial harmony and improve patient care in the hospital.
Dr. Obiabo regretted that rather than addressing these issues, the board of the hospital and government had taken steps to worsen the situation at DELSUTH. For example
government has since this year stopped any form of subvention to the hospital. This has greatly affected patient care in the hospital. Many simple equipment like blood pressure apparatus are lacking in the wards. Essential drugs and consumable are in short supply. The hospital in order to make ends meet, has had to increase its fees to the detriment of poor Deltans.
Government this year withheld part salary of honorary consultants for more than 5 months. The association had to embark on an industrial action before 3 months’ salaries (out of the 5 months) were paid. And as at today the affected consultants are still being owed 3 months pay.
Government has not showed any intention to completely terminate the contract of the diaspora health workers after the expiration of the current contract. The engagement of the diaspora doctors has been on since 2008. Instead the Ministry of Health, who has one the diaspora doctors as the current Commissioner for Health, is proposing a mere reduction of 30% to their current remuneration. This would still be a considerable drain in the resources of the State considering that workers above salary grade level 12 in the State are being owed 2 months salaries currently.
The Board Chairman recently announced the engagement of a diaspora Chief Medical Director who, according to sources, has no administrative experience and who is to earn an upwards of 5 million per month at a time the government says it cannot afford to give any subvention to the hospital.
Nigerian-based consultants who were engaged on a salary step of 7 are still being paid step 4 despite having an employment letter more than 2 years ago that shows step 7.
The MDCAN Chairman said that these and many other issues are why, regrettably, they were forced to embark on an industrial action.
On his own part, the President of the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), DELSUTH Dr. Innocent Okoacha said that the DELSUTH Board Chairman has threatened to sanction them if they do not attend to patients by the expiration of the 72 hours ultimatum. Dr. Okoacha reiterated that members of ARD are not on strike hence have been at their duty post. However as resident doctors in training they are not legally covered to attend to patients in the absence of consultants. He said that the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) would not allow them see patients without the supervision or authorization of consultants in a Teaching Hospital. He expressed surprise that the Board Chairman who is a medical doctor and should be aware of this, is asking them to disobey the law. He further said that there are lots of issues that government should address in DELSUTH and referred this reporter to an earlier press release made by ARD on the issues affecting DELSUTH (see http://wp.me/p3ZErB-CK).