Amidst panic over the detection of coronavirus in the country, resident doctors of the Enugu State University Teaching Hospital on Saturday embarked on a five-day warning strike to press home their demand for an enhanced pay package.
Many residents of Enugu have criticized the timing of the strike at this time of national emergency.
The leadership of the resident doctors declined to respond to questions on the coronavirus epidemic.
But president of the Association of Resident Doctors, ARD ESUT-TH, Dr. Chima Edoga, who spoke on the strike appealed to patients to understand their plight which he said they have managed for over four years.
Edoga stated that it is the wish of the doctors to make the hospital a center of excellence, but noted that it is only when manpower is retained that the hospital could achieve the desired dream.
He said that the Resident Doctors deliberated extensively on their work conditions and patient care before arriving at the difficult decision
According to them, there is a shortage of doctors in ESUT-TH as a result of continual mass exodus of doctors, despite genuine efforts made by the State Government and the Management of ESUT-TH to replace them.
The ARD ESUT- TH noted that there has been over-burdening of doctors who chose to remain and care for the people, with some doctors having to take daily call duties for months, at the expense of their own health, personal and family lives.
They said that as a result there is a drop in the quality of care given to the patients.
The doctors said their reasons for embarking on the warning strike include “Perennial poor salary and emoluments vis-à-vis non-implementation of the Corrected Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) with consequential minimum wage adjustments for doctors working in ESUT-TH Parklane as is obtainable in all Federal Tertiary Health Institutions (FTHIs) and many State Tertiary Health Institutions (STHIs).
“STHIs in neighbouring states like Anambra (COOUTH) and Imo (IMSUTH) have made giant strides in this regard. The recent increase in our salaries by the state government, though well appreciated, will not suffice.”
Edoga said there was failure of all diplomatic channels and negotiations with the Enugu State Government to address the challenges and ensure continuous delivery of standard health care services to its citizenry.
“Consequently, ARD ESUT-TH Parklane, in a unanimous decision, resolved to embark on a 5-day warning strike, starting on Saturday, February 29, 2020 at 8am to resume work on Thursday, March 5, 2020 by 8am, unless the State Government immediately implements the Corrected Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) with consequential minimum wage adjustments for doctors working in ESUT-TH Parklane as is obtainable in all Federal Tertiary Health Institutions (FTHIs) and many State Tertiary Health Institutions (STHIs) in Nigeria,” Edoga said.
He disclosed that the Congress of ARD ESUT-TH Parklane will re-convene after the warning strike, give notice of and proceed on an indefinite industrial action if the Government does to meet their demand.