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UNTH Striking Doctors Vow Not To Return To Work As Patient’s Death Rises

By IGNATIUS OKPARA, Enugu – Resident Doctors at the University of Nigeria Teaching hospital, UNTH Ituku Ozalla Enugu state have vowed not to call off their ongoing two months strike until their demands are met by the federal government.

Meanwhile, the situation our Correspondent gathered has led to alarming rate of deaths of abandoned patients in the hospital.

The development, has worsened the condition of dozens of patients abandoned in various wards of the hospital.

Despite the industrial action, AFRICAN EXAMINER reliably gathered from a source close to the hospital that the Doctors have received their two months salaries that the strike has lasted.

However, the Doctors are insisting that unless the skipping allowances and other demands made by the medical workers union were resolved, they would not return to work.

Dr. Chris Amah, the Chief Medical Director of UNTH, and other management staff had held several talks with the aggrieved medical workers comprising Resident Doctors, Medical Officers and House Officers between July 5 when the strike started, and last Friday, September 11, pleading with them to call off the strike in the interest of the suffering patients.

The CMD had explained to the adamant Doctors that there was no circular from the Federal Ministry of Health authorising implementation of the skipping allowance, promising that once the fund was appropriated in the next budget, the management would not hesitate to pay the contentious allowances.

Our Correspondent further learnt that while some leaders of the medical workers union had agreed to call off the industrial acton, having investigated and realised that there was no fund actually released to the hospital for the payment, some officials of the union, led by the Chairman, Association of Resident Doctors, Dr. Aloy Ugwoke, vowed to continue with the strike.

The Ugwoke-led group, which met last Friday, according to one of the union leaders, took a decision not to resume work, demanding that the management should release funds from the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, to pay the skipping allowances, even when it has not be approved by the federal ministry of Health.

The management was said to have explained to the aggrieved medical workers that the IGR was not meant for the settlement of workers’ entitlements, adding that with the recent directive on the operation of single treasury account by the Federal Government, such expenditure could not be authorized by the hospital, but this fell on deaf ears, as the doctors were bent on arm-twisting the Dr. Amah. to settle the arrears.

Hear one of the Doctors: “It is becoming very clear to us that some of our colleagues in the medical sector have other motives beyond the implementation of the skipping allowances, which was our main reason for embarking on the strike since July.

“They want to play politics with the strike which many of us have said it is no longer necessary because our colleagues in other teaching hospitals have already called off the strike, having realized from investigations that no fund has been released for payment of what we are demanding,” an official of the union said on Sunday.

He disclosed that many of the striking doctors who are sympathetic to the plights of the patients, had during the union’s meeting last Friday, expressed their desire to return to work more so when they had been paid for the period they did not work, but this was turned down by some union leaders “who are bent on causing unnecessary trouble in the hospital.”

AFRICAN EXAMINER Investigations revealed that many of the striking Doctors who own private clinics had been diverting patients to their clinics since the strike began, while those patients, who could not afford to pay the high bills charged by such clinics, have continued to besiege the Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, Parklane, Enugu, which had been under intense pressure on account of the increasing number of patients flooding the hospital daily.


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