Resident doctors has rejected a court order to return to work.
The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) on Monday vowed to continue its strike despite the Federal Government’s plea for striking doctors to return to work.
According to The Nation, its president, Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, accused some “powers that be” of stalling the payment of resident doctors’ Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF) amounting to N5.4 billion.
Today makes it 51 days since the doctors commenced their strike on August 2, 2021.
Last Friday, the National Industrial Court (NIC) in Abuja ordered the doctors to return to work, but NARD said it would appeal the ruling.
The Association accused the Ministry of Labour and Employment of deliberately sabotaging the Budget Office’s efforts to pay its members’ Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF) for 2020 and 2021.
Speaking with The Nation on Monday, Okhuaihesuyi said: “Concerning Ngige saying doctors should go back to work if it was him, would he have gone back to work? He is just being wicked.
“For example, in the case of the Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF), money has already been released to the IPPIS office and they have loaded it into the system, but they put a stop to the payment.
“They wrote to the Ministry of Health asking them to give them the okay to pay the money. N4.8bn was paid to them for the payment of the MRTF for 2021.
“Meanwhile, the one not paid for 2020, they are not even talking about it again. But the money has been released to the budget office.”
According to him, this smirks of politics and insincerity.Okhuaihesuyi added: “The money for the MRTF was released from the budget office which is in two tranches. It is supposed to be payment for 2020 MRTF that was omitted and 2021. For 2020, it is about N608 million and for 2021, it is about N4.8 billion.
“The members have been verified and payment is actually supposed to be made but because of their mischief, the money has been released to the IPPIS office and they have confirmed the amount to be paid and the system has been loaded.
“However, the payment cannot be done because some powers that be put an embargo on payment of the MRTF. Ngige is the one running everything, while the Ministry of Health has gone to sleep.
“The Ministry of Labour is the one in charge of everything. It took us to court, instituted no work no pay, and stopped them from paying us the MRTF. His plan is to break us, but I hope he doesn’t end up breaking himself because so many people have been in his position and have left. He won’t be there forever.
“We had an electronic National Executive Council (NEC) meeting today (yesterday), where we briefed our members on the outcome of everything. We were given the mandate that the strike can continue. We have an AGM on Friday where we are going to revisit and go through all the strike actions.”
Also yesterday, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Prof. Chris Bode, lamented that frequent industrial action by medical doctors is destabilising the system.
Bode spoke while during the inspection of facilities at the hospital by the House of Representatives Committee on Health Institutions.
He described strikes as one of the major challenges facing the hospital, as the development had disrupted services, training and research.
“A lot of confidence developed within the clientele base during the past 20 months of the pandemic has also been lost.
“The rapidly deteriorating value of the Naira has an ongoing deleterious effect on awarded contracts and budget projections.
“All contractors have asked for variation and reviews because of cost overrun. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has more than halved patronage and attendance in hospitals, affecting revenue generation and projected expansion,” Bode said.
According to him, the emigration of medical staff has eroded the staff strength in all professional cadres, as professional staff have been resigning and leaving for greener pastures.
He said that the staff shortage was caused by both the massive ongoing emigration and the expansion of facilities.
Chairman, House Committee on Health Institutions, Chigozie Obi, said that the essence of the visit was to ensure that budgetary provisions were appropriately utilised.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has expressed fear over the future of the medical profession in the country.
It said the situation under which the profession operates was becoming hopeless.
The union’s National Publicity Secretary, Dr Aniekeme Uwah, stated this in Uyo at the weekend during the 2021 Correspondents’ Chapel Week of the Akwa Ibom State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
The theme of the event was: Post-COVID-19 economy and the challenges to ethical journalism ahead of the 2023 elections.
Uwah decried the spike in brain drain in Nigeria and urged the government at all levels to address the problem.
He said: “Many of our colleagues in Nigeria have moved for green pastures. If this is not tackled, the health sector will be highly affected. The only solution is for government to make adequate budgetary provisions so that doctors and other health workers will be motivated and well remunerated.”