President, National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Jubril Abdullahi has described the decision by the government of President Goodluck Jonathan to sack 16,000 of them, who have been on nation-wide strike as illegal.
Reacting to the sack which was communicated through a circular from the federal ministry of health yesterday, Abdullahi said that the President’s directive for their sack is illegal, adding that the decision shows that President Jonathan yielded to the demand of the Joint Health Workers Union (JOHESU).
“The action of Mr. President is illegal because there are several Acts that recognize Residencies in Nigeria and his action speaks volume of the government’s decision to follow the dictates of the Joint Health Workers Union. This is one of the issues the union is asking for.
“Whatever the government has done in itsr reaction to the NMA’s strike means it is not ready for dialogue because while we are engaging them, the government has resorted to this.”
Another resident doctor, who spoke on anonymity condemned the decision, saying he is now officially unemployed.
The doctor, a staff of a teaching hospital, said a colleague of his had just sent him another circular ordering all resident doctors to surrender hospital property in their possession.
The circular from the ministry of health said the doctor’s salaries and allowances for one month has been paid in lieu of the notice as they ordinarily are not entitled to any salaries for the period they have been on strike.
“In compliance with this order, I am to regrettably inform you that your appointment in this hospital is hereby terminated forthwith,” the letter issued residents doctors in a teaching hospital in the South South region of Nigeria stated.
Only yesterday, a circular, dated August 13, 2014, signed by L. N. Awute, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, on behalf of the minister said the president’s directive was given following an appraisal of the challenges facing the health sector.
“Mr. President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR has suspended the Residency Training Programme for Doctors in Nigeria indefinitely for the purposes of appraising the challenges facing the health sector,” Mr. Awute said.
He said the Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, has also directed that “letters of termination of residency training” be issued to all affected resident doctors in hospitals immediately.
The memo asked the management of all public hospitals to take necessary measures to restore full medical services in the hospitals, even without the resident doctors.
In what appears to show the reason for government’s action, the permanent secretary said the hospital could employ part time doctors who must be of ‘good behaviour.’
“Note however, this is without prejudice to the employment of Locum Physicians on six (6) months renewable contract tied to productivity and good behaviour,” Mr. Awute said.
Such recruitments must, however, “be approved by Mr. President through the Honourable Minister of Health.”
The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, of which the resident doctors are members, has been on strike since July 1.
One of the demands of the NMA was that the Federal Government through the Ministry of Health should formalize and implement the report of the inter-agency committee on residency training.
The NMA also asked the FG to release a uniform template on the appointment of resident doctors and a funding framework for residency training established while overseas clinical attachment be fully restored and properly funded.
Resident doctors are doctors being trained to become specialists/ consultants in different fields of medicine. During their 4 to 5 years training to become consultants, they work in different government hospitals and make up the majority of doctors in teaching hospitals. [myad]