Health workers on strike, shut down federal hospitals

0 Comments Article Rating:0 | Read: 927
Health workers on strike, shut down federal hospitals

IT was a pathetic sight yesterday in most Federal Government-owned teaching hospitals and medical centres, as hapless patients, were turned back by striking health workers.

Except medical doctors, who reported for work, all other health workers, including nurses and pharmacists, refused to render any form of service to sick Nigerians. Instead they massed at the main gates of the hospitals, locked them and turned away patients, who thronged the facilities for medical attention.

The strike went on despite frantic efforts by the Federal Government to restore harmony in the sector.

The health workers under the aegis of Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations and Unions (AHPAU) started the nationwide strike to protest the alleged withdrawal of their teaching allowance and discrepancies in the Consolidated Health Workers Salary Structure (CONHESS).

AHPAU comprises of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), the Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI), the Nigerian Union of Pharmacists, Medical Technologists and Professions Allied to Medicine (NUPMTPAM); and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU).

The situation forced the Health Minister, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu to visit federal hospitals in Lagos yesterday to meet with their chief medical directors and the striking workers.

Commenting on the alleged withdrawal of teaching allowance, Chukwu told The Guardian “it has not been removed, it is still there. The circular says it should be paid to only those that are teaching. Some people advised that we seek clarification from the Salary and Wages Commission. They advised that we should hold on but I said pay as we await clarification. Now the Salary and Wages Commission has come out with the interpretation. They have defined the issue.”

On the discrepancies in CONHESS, Chukwu said: “Before I became the Minister of Health, there was a circular on the Extended Union Salary Scale (EUSS). The equivalent is Consolidated Public Service Scheme (COMPSS). It is the only scale that has levels 16 and 17. So, there is no grade level 11. So, grade level 11 does not exist. So what they do is they promoted people from CONHESS 9 to 11.

“Before I became minister, the Head of Service of the Federation reversed the decision that those who were wrongly promoted should come down. When I consulted with the health workers’ unions, they pleaded that we should allow those promoted wrongly to keep it. So, I met with the Salary and Wages Commission. They said those erroneously promoted can keep it but there will be no more skipping from level 9 to 11.”

Chukwu said the “major bone of contention” was that the health workers should be made consultants, just like the medical doctors.

“The major thing is that they should be made consultants. The issue started with the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan where the hospital on its own without clearance from the appropriate authorities made nurses consultants. So, we told UCH to go back to status quo. They told their members that the minister is only for doctors,” he said.

Chukwu told The Guardian yesterday that the way out of the crisis is for every Nigerian to join me to appeal to them to come back to work. This does not warrant a strike. I think this is a blackmail to the nation.”

At the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba yesterday, the Out- Patient Department was shut against patients. Patients with emergency cases were left to their fate. Apart from medical doctors who were seen offering skeletal services, nurses, pharmacists, clerks, and medical technologists did not show up for duty.

The situation is not different at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Ebutte Metta, the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, and Federal Neuropsychiatry Hospital, Yaba.

Activities were also paralysed at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKUTH), Kano, the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH), University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Enugu.

According to the Public Relations Officer of AKUTH, Mr. Aminu Abubakar, full-scale services have been paralysed as doctors attended to only emergency cases.

Chairman of MHWUN in LUTH, Mr. Isiaka Busari, and Chairman, NASU branch of the hospital, Babatunde Uranga told The Guardian that the chief medical directors and the minister of health should be blamed for the strike.

Busari said: “We are on strike simply because of some issues. One of them is teaching allowance and the other is skipping of CONHESS 10, which means that those promoted to CONHESS 11 were brought down to CONHESS 10, contrary to our agreement. We have a directive that any branch, where the management did not comply should go on strike immediately. The other issues are internal ones.

“The issue of teaching allowance use to be from CONHESS 7 and above. Now, the minister of health has stopped the payment. There was a circular, which emanated from the National Salary and Wages Commission to all unions to that effect. Let me tell you, this strike is not a local one. It is national. We are appealing to the minister because we believe that he is for the entire health sector and not a category of staff. So, you imagine you can see doctors they are working but all other categories of staff are on strike. The strike is national involving pharmacists, nurses, physiotherapists.”

But the Chief Medical Director of LUTH, Prof. Akin Osibogun, said: “It is unfortunate that some health workers want to be paid for services they do not render. It is like asking for travelling allowance when your job does not demand that you travel.

What we are saying is that do not teach if you are not paid teaching allowance. The teaching allowance is not for all medical doctors. It is only for consultants and those that are asked to teach. The strike is really unnecessary. As you can see the doctors are working.”

A medical consultant, who preferred anonymity said: “I blame the government for this. You started paying all health workers an allowance and stopped suddenly without going back to explain to them the reason for your action. It is unfortunate that people in the health sector no longer have regard for human life. I do not think that they are considering the number of lives that will be lost because of this strike.”

AHPAU had over the weekend in a letter to President Jonathan Goodluck, lamented that the recent meeting called at the instance of the health minister to address issues bordering on the welfare of its members was deadlocked.

Rate this article

0

Write Your Comment

Breaking News

Months Later, Lagos Commences Investigation Into Attacks On Lagos Buses By Soldiers

The tribunal of inquiry set up by Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, to investigate the 4th July rampage waged upon drivers of the ...

Search For Missing Alpha Jet Intensifies--Chief Of Air Staff

At a press conference today, Nigerian Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Ademola Amosu has announced that the Nigerian military is planning to amplify search ...

President Jonathan Has Failed Woefully, ACF Declares

The chairman of the National Working Committee of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Alhaji Ibrahim Coomassie says that as a leader, President Goodluck Jonathan has failed ...

Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak In Nigeria: The Issues At Stake By Jaye Gaskia

It is perhaps such an uncanny truth that the ongoing Ebola Virus Disease [EVD] outbreak in Nigeria should be so thoroughly representative of the good, ...

Two Nigerians And An Israeli Smuggle $9.3million Into South Africa In A Private Jet To Buy Arms Allegedly On Behalf Of The Nigerian Government

South African police are investigating two Nigerians and an Israeli citizen who tried to bring $9.3 million in cash into the country illegally, a spokesman ...

Auditor General’s Report Indicts Ex-Head Of Service, Oronsaye, For N123billion fraud

A damning report by the office of Nigeria’s Auditor General has indicted a former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Stephen Oronsaye, over ...

A Government Full Of Lies: Reuben Abati And Olisa Metuh As Agents By Tobi Idaomi

When a government keeps on lying to its populace, then the whole country is in trouble. For the past three years now we have been ...

Jarret Tenebe And Saltpond Crude Oil Racket: What Is EFCC Up To? By Ifeanyi Izeze

Kai, is there still any hope at all for this country called Nigeria? Deconstructing the alleged complicity of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in ...

CCTV Footage Of Synagogue Building Collapse And ‘Strange Airplane’ T.B. Joshua Claimed Was Behind It

SHJfGVmuYHg The CCTV footage of a plane Synagogue Pastor Tb Joshua claimed was responsible for building collapse that killed 42 people  On ...

Wole Soyinka: Salute To A Moral Guardian-CNPP

Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) salutes our Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, the Moral Guardian; for his profound statement on the Boko Haram imbroglio ...

Tags