By Eseoghene Emuke
Resident doctors of the Delta State University Teaching Hospital (DELSUTH), Oghara, has suspended its planned strike over the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The doctors under the aegis of Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), DELSUTH chapter, said they have decided to suspend the industrial action in the interest of the health needs of Nigerians especially Deltans in the face of the ravaging disease.
The doctors who had planned to embark on the strike over the welfare of its members ranging from the failure of DELSUTH management and Delta State government to refund examinations and bench fees owned members, vowed to support efforts to combat the spread of the disease in the state.
A communique issued at the end of its expanded Executive Council Meeting of DELSUTH’s ARD, stated that the decision to suspend the planned strike was in accordance with the directive of the National President of their parent body, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).
The communique, however, added that the suspension of the industrial action was temporary as the reasons for the proposed strike had not been met by the state government and the management of the teaching hospital.
While vowing to collaborate with the state government in fighting the spread of the virus, the doctors frowned at DELSUTH’s management delay in shuttting down its outpatient clinics in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic as a precautionary measure.
It also lamented that there was no life insurance package or compensatory measures for frontline medical workers battling to curb the spread of the disease.
“After extensive deliberations on the issues raised in our earlier ultimatum and review of the level of preparedness for the COVID-19 pandemic in DELSUTH, the following observations and resolutions were made:
“Members frowned at management’s delay in closing all outpatient clinics in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic as a precautionary measure to forestall exposure of multiple members of staff to the ravaging infectious viral disease pandemic.
” It was also observed that there is inadequacy of the recommended N95 facemask and PPEs needed as precautionary protocols against the disease.
“There is also no conclusive plan for life insurance or compensatory measures for frontline staff involved in the management of this globally dreaded disease.
“That management has not secured the bail out funds promised by the Delta State Government to offset the huge debt of update, examinations and bench fees refunds owed our members over the years despite our fast elapsing multiple extended ultimata for industrial disharmony.
“Recall that this was one of the issues of agitation during our indefinite industrial action in December 2018 with follow up reminders to management all through last year as captured in our communiqués with Ref numbers: ARD/18/19/014, ARD/18/19/040, ARD/18/19/063 and ARD/19/20/001, dated 07/02/19, 06/06/19, 04/10/19 and12/12/19 respectively”, the communique read.
The resident doctors, however, demanded, “That DELSUTH management should shutdown all outpatient clinics pending when a decline is recorded in the incident cases of COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
“That adequate provision of the PPEs, recommended face masks, alcohol-based hand sanitizers and infra-red thermometers at all patient entry points to the hospital. That all health workers listed for the management of this disease be granted life insurance package with adequate compensatory measures in event of any calamity befall any of them.
“Our members are ever willing to collaborate with management in combating this pandemic provided the above needed materials are made available.
“That DELSUTH management/Delta State Government should pay up all outstanding updates, examinations and bench fees refunds with all components including transportation and accommodation as obtained in the Public Service Rules, Residency Training Act of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and other similar Teaching Hospitals in Nigeria without further delay, having shown magnanimity by extending multiple ultimata on this particular demand.
“That management should review the sections of her Residency Policy Handbook contravening the Medical Residency Training Act of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Public Service Rules, as captured in our position paper dated 16th March, 2020 submitted to the Chairman of the DELSUTH Residency Training Committee.
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“This demand is backed by law and remains non-negotiable for all residents in any residency training institution, DELSUTH inclusive.
“Members resolved that due to inadequate training conditions across most departments occasioned by the numerous challenges observed above, further complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic (leading to the postponement of March/April examinations of the Postgraduate Medical Colleges), management should concentrate on working out modalities for improved training of residents across all departments rather than contemplating exit of the poorly trained residents at this critical time. We demand that exit of residents be placed on hold at this critical moment.
“Finally, in view of the above outlined issues affecting our members, we demand that DELSUTH management/Delta State Government reciprocate our magnanimity by resolving all the aforementioned challenges militating against proper residency training in DELSUTH within this graceful period to avert immediate withdrawal of our services without prior notice at the recovery from the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are appealing to all meaning Deltans and Nigerians to prevail on DELSUTH management and Delta State Government to ensure that all our demands are met to avoid unnecessary disruption of services to Deltans.
“we wish to state unequivocally that we remain committed to the smooth running of the hospital and it is our sincere hope that this letter will be given the necessary attention it deserves.”