Resident Doctors Pull Out of ESUTH Strike, Lampoon ARD Leadership
Some resident Doctors have pulled out of the Strike action embarked upon by Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) in Enugu State University Teaching Hospital (ESUTH) last week.
In a communique made available to Igbere TV on Tuesday, the doctors said they believe that the timing of the strike action is ill-advised considering the situation of the deadly Coronavirus pandemic currently ravaging the World.
The doctors noted that the need to return to work is to appreciate the efforts of the state Government, under the leadership of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi that just paid 25% of the COVID-19 allowance not excluding the life assurance scheme for health workers in the state.
Igbere TV recalls that as part of efforts aimed at containing the spread of the pandemic in Enugu, Gov. Ugwuanyi also launched the engagement of 124 health specialists to man the isolation centres in the state.
The communique reads in full;
1. The quest for the improvement of the welfare package of Resident Doctors in Parklane, as well as the improvement of welfare packages of other medical doctors and frontline health professionals in ESUT Parklane, particularly in this era of COVID 19, has been a work in progress.
2. In 2014, an elaborate negotiation between the then Enugu State NMA Chairman led by Dr Onodugo, and the then government of Enugu State, resulted in the improvement of welfare package of all the doctors in Enugu state, from CONTISS to some percentage of CONMESS.
3. It must be recalled that the poor handling of the side of ESUT Parklane residents by their then ARD leadership led to a disparity between the salaries of Parklane doctors and that of the doctors in Enugu Ministry of Health. This disparity in salaries generated a lot of tensions amongst Parklane doctors resulting in industrial actions undertaken by the Parklane residents in 2018. This was as a result of Health Professioners clinical allowance(HPCA) of which it was discovered that we were not entitled to it. The first strike notice was on this basis.
4. The strike was eventually called off without the realization of the bridging of this gap. This was the state of affairs before a group of doctors in Parklane stated that they were going on strike on 24th April 2020, this time on a different demand for FULL CORRECTED CONMESS. This group of doctors allegedly obtained an approval from the Enugu State government for the payment of corrected CONMESS for Parklane resident doctors in exclusion of any other doctors in Parklane Hospital or elsewhere in Enugu state. Corrected CONMESS, as we all know, is the salary scale of doctors in federal hospitals, and is in reality about twice the current salaries of doctors in Parklane.
5. This money, if paid to resident doctors alone is a lot higher than what a Professor and consultants in the same institution would get. This led to other health workers in parklane including the Pharmacists, Nurses, Medical laboratory scientists and other allied workers approaching the government for a review and subsequent upgrade of their own salaries. Following this development, the state government requested for an all inclusive review of affordable salaries across board. The Leadership of ARD turned their back on the request and resumed strike .
6. It is important to note that the first strike notice was not even on full conmess but on HPCA. Now the National Industrial Court, gave an interim Injunction restraining from going on strike which they flouted and went on strike despite appeals by medical elders and well meaning Enugu state indigenes.
7. Now the questions are:
a. Why the clamor for strike in the midst of this pandemic? Are the Doctors working for passion or money
b. Is it possible that the residents should receive almost twice the salary of their Consultants? Did they speak foŕ all or for themselves alone?
c. Why is it impossible for these Doctors to have agreed to have a lasting solution to the problem of salary of workers in the health system taking everybody along.
d. One wonders why these demands are being made at a time there’s global economic recession following this pandemic. Where will the state government that pays the salary of its workers get the money to pay this money.
8. In view of the above, some of us who feel that in as much as we need good ruminerations, we believe that the timing of this strike action is ill-advised considering the situation at hand. We don’t want to believe that behind the screen, what sterns this demand are multi-factorial. Nobody wants to die, but the fear of covid19 is a key factor in this DELUSIONAL demand. Secondly, money is pivotal but this utterly negates the HIPPOCRITIC OATH of medical practice. We therefore disassociate ourselves from the ongoing strike and appeal to our colleagues to return to work as this strike portrays us as those without consciences in the face of the global pandemic. The need to return to work is to appreciate the efforts of the state Government that just paid 25% of the covid19 allowance not excluding the life assurance scheme for health workers in the state.