No plan to sack striking resident doctors – Lagos

Dayo Ojerinde

30 August 2021

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The Lagos State Government has said it does not have plans to sack striking resident doctors at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja.

The Commissioner for Establishment, Training and Pensions, Mrs Ajibola Ponnle, in an interview with our correspondent, said the government was also recruiting more health workers to fill areas of manpower shortages in the state hospitals.

Recall that there had been speculations that the recruitment would ultimately lead to the sacking of the doctors.

But Ponle said, “The state government is not considering sacking the striking resident doctors. The health sector has received considerable attention from Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration and the shortage of manpower was one of the challenges the governor has been addressing from last year with the recruitment of 350 healthcare professionals into the service through the Health Service Commission and LASUTH.

“He has also approved another round of recruitment, which has started with the commencement of the employment of 400 healthcare professionals. These will include at least 150 doctors, which is the current deficit identified.”

On the issue of the circular from the Head of Service directing the removal of house officers and National Youth Service Corps doctors from the scheme of service, the commissioner said the decision to implement the directive in the state was for equity and justice.

Ponnle said, “The National Council on Establishments, which is a body comprising the Head of Service of the Federation, all Heads of Service and the Permanent Secretaries of Establishments of the 36 states, at its 42nd national meeting resolved to remove the current status of internship programmes; in this case housemanship and NYSC doctors, as posts attracting grade levels in the scheme of service.

“The circular was issued by the Head of Service of the Federation in April and by the Head of Service of Lagos State on July 12, 2021.

“So, since both housemanship and NYSC placements are done prior to their entry into the public service, it was necessary to correct the anomaly of having them included in the first place, which is what the NCE resolved to do.”

She added that being a house officer or NYSC doctor had implications on the point of entry, career progression, remuneration, welfare or service years should the doctors apply and be recruited eventually into the public service after their internship.

Ponnle also said the state government was working to meet the demands of the striking resident doctors.

She stated, “All the issues raised by the LASUTH ARD and the medical guild have been given due attention and are at various stages of implementation. One of such demands by the ARD is the domestication of the Medical Residency Training Act, which by the provisions state that 80 per cent of the training fees is to be provided through the national budgetary allocation to residency training institutions and 20 per cent by the state institutions in which they are being trained.

“In spite of the provision of the Act, the governor saw this as an area where the state should intervene and approved the payment of 100 per cent to resident doctors. In addition to this, during the peak of the COVID pandemic last year, the hazard allowance was increased by 300 per cent.”

The LASUTH ARD President, Dr Azeez Ojekunle, however, said the association had yet to receive a positive response to its demands from the state government.

“No positive response yet from the state government; it has been promises upon promises. The government has yet to withdraw the circular removing house officers and NYSC doctors from the scheme of service. The medical residency training fund has not been paid; we’ve been promised this since April,” he said.

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