Ben Ezechime, Enugu
The Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) of Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) Teaching Hospital says it will embark on indefinite strike over abysmal shortage of doctors, insecurity and poor sponsorship of residency programme.
The doctors said that the indefinite strike would commence on January 31, 2024, after seven weeks grace in which its earlier third series of notification of ultimatum to Enugu State Government to do the needful and meet its demands failed.
This is contained in a communique issued on Monday after the end of the Emergency General Meeting (EGM) of ARD in ESUT Teaching Hospital, Parklane, Enugu held on Saturday, Dec. 08, 2023.
The communique was jointly signed by the President of ARD-ESUT, Dr Chukwunonso Ofonere; and its Secretary General, Dr Ikemefuna Nnamani.
It said that the EGM observed with regret, the silence from the Management of the hospital on the 14-day ultimatum issued and another 49 days of grace following the ultimatum expiration for it to meet the demands of the association.
The statement said the Management of ESUT Teaching Hospital, Parklane and the Enugu State Government had failed to declare a state of emergency on employment of doctors and safety and security within the hospital.
According to the statement, the EGM observed that it is over 180 days since the Government through the Secretary to the State Government promised the ARD of employment of Medical Officers, Resident Doctors and payment of medical Residency Training Funds (MRTF), and we are yet to see the employment of new doctors.
It said that the EGM noted that the security men placed at the gate are no longer there and direct daily assault on doctors had increased again; while safety of doctors and other health workers in the hospital cannot be guaranteed.
“The management should declare a state of emergency on the employment of Doctors in the hospital. There should be an urgent approval for the recruitment of Medical Officers, Resident Doctors and House Officers in the hospital.
“This recruitment should be focused especially at the Accident and Emergency Department, Surgery Department, Internal Medicine Department, Paediatrics Department, Obstetrics and Gynaecology Departments etc. Resident Doctors that have left our institution in the past four years and were never replaced.
“Management should ensure implementation of safety policies to protect her workers against physical attacks and kidnap by restoring the daily police and other covert security personnel deployed to the hospital.
“The 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF) has not been paid and exam bodies are closing their adverts,” it said.
The statement said that salary increment had not been looked into at all; even as house officers were excluded from the hardship/palliative of N25,000 given by the state governor.
“We are still back to where we were in 2023 or even worse as plans are on the way to increase the rents of those living in the hospital quarters (one bedroom apartment) by about 375 per cent from N8,000 to N30,000 monthly.
“This will escalate the already palpable crises and we will be left with no other alternatives but to protect the interest and welfare of our members.
“Jan. 31, 2024 is here already and the doctors are mobilising for an indefinite, total and maybe protracted industrial action if nothing is done,” it added.
The doctors also pleaded that the state government led by his Excellency, Barr. Peter Ndubuisi Mbah, in his charismatic way should intervene in this matter to avoid untold hardship and loss of lives that might occur if there is a disruption in the healthcare delivery in Enugu State.