Kogi doctors protest manpower shortage at federal teaching hospital

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The Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) at the Federal Teaching Hospital Lokoja (FTHL), has protested over the shortage of manpower and too much work load at the hospital.

The ARD members on Friday, protested round the hospital premises, and decried the shortage of manpower and work over load on their members.

The doctors carried placards with various inscriptions such as “We want to work, not to work and die,” and “Don’t kill us, stop using no work no pay to threaten us,”

Others inscriptions included: “Federal Teaching Hospital Lokoja doctors are dying of help, give us call meals”, “End casualization of doctors”, “Federal Government, Mr President, come to our aide”, among others.

The Chairman of Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) Kogi chapter, Dr Olushola Baoku, who joined the protest, said the doctors were completely overworked without a commensurate wages.

“The doctors are angry and sad and of course in extension, NMA is sad because of the event that is actually taking place in federal teaching hospital Lokoja.

“We have been communicated three times in the last three months concerning the burning issues.

“We have hoped that the management of hospital would have found a middle ground in resolving all these issues.

“People can not be on duty for 48 hours and there will be no food to eat. What of if they collapse? Somebody resuscitating another can collapse.

“I can’t imagine that with all the things Mr President has put in place about workers, there are some doctors that are not getting 35,000 wage award.

“Doctors are being casualized on a platform called GIFMIS and so many problems going on in this hospital,” Baoku said.

He added “We are also aware that FTHL which has about 500 beds that runs on over 200 doctors before, now runs 64 doctors as resident doctors.

“Before these doctors will go and die one after the other or shut down the system, the federal government should quickly intervene and bring this problem to a reasonable end”.

Baoku urged the management of FTHL to urgently address the issues of manpower shortage as well as improvement on the working conditions of the resident doctors.

Meanwhile, the management of the FTHL has discredited the allegations levelled against it by the ARD.

Dr Ebune Ojochide, the Chairman Medical Advisory Committee (CMAC) of FTHL, said the issue of manpower shortage in health sector remained a major challenge across the entire country as a result of the “Japa syndrome”.

Ojochide stressed the need to follow an administrative process required for the recruitment and replacement of workers into the federal institutions.

He explained that the federal government had put on hold the recruitment of federal workers in Nigeria including the health sector, and FTHL could not recruit without the approval of the relevant agencies.

“An health institution like ours, cannot recruit without the approval of the federal government with the necessary cash backing to recruit.

“The management of the hospital has no power to recruit without the legal backing. if you recruit, it will be illegal, null and void.

The recruitment of shortage of power affects the whole health institution in the country. Until we have the mandate and approval of the federal government to recruit medical staff, we cannot do it because there will be no cash backing,” he said.

He explained that the management of the FTHL in the interim, had a temporary arrangement of bring in local medical officers to fill some of the manpower gaps.

“We cannot afford to let the services collapse because doctors are leaving the country due to Japa syndrome.

“The salaries of the local staff and entitlement are being paid as and when due, but just that it is not a permanent employment until the federal government give the approval to convert them as a permanent staff.

“So, this is the interim measure that has been taken by the hospital management to bridge the manpower shortage gaps.

“There are two platforms upon which staff are recruited in the federal government personnel management which are IPPIS and Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS).

“The IPPIS is a platform for regular staff that were employed on permanent basis and are pensionable while the GIFMIS is a platform for those temporary or non regular staff,” he said

He stressed that the local staff on GIFIMS platform would also have the opportunity to be converted to permanent staff whenever the federal government give the approval for recruitment.

“So, it is not casualisation of staff as alleged by the ARD, but just an interim measure to fill the manpower shortage gaps which is the only option we have to keep the services going,” he said.

On the issue of Call Meal, Ojochide said the provision of call meal was an incentive by the management of FTHL to encourage staff who on call, saying, “it is the prerogative of the hospital management and not the right of staff”.

“The hospital never suspended the call meal. The ARD terminated the engagement of the food vendor by themselves without the management’s approval, thus, the vendor stopped supplying them food”.

He insisted that the management was responsible for the payment for call meal and the ARD should have communicated to the management before disengaging the vendor which was not their prerogative.

He added: “the hospital management did not stop their call meal, but the ARD disengaged the vendor without the approval of the hospital management.”

Ojochide, therefore reaffirmed the commitment of the hospital management to continue to deliver quality healthcare services to the people of the state and Nigeria at large.

The ARD had embarked on the protest since on Thursday and vowed to continue the protest on daily basis until their demands are met.

There were presence of heavy security men at the hospital premises which the management said was to ensure the safety of lives and property, and to prevent the break down of law and order.


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