FG threatens to sack striking doctors as meeting ends in deadlock

• NARD leaders storm out of meeting with FG

Following the failure of the marathon meeting between the Federal Government and the doctors under the auspices of National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to reach a compromise, the government on Tuesday threatened to sack all striking doctors who fail to report to work on Wednesday.

As the reconciliation meeting, which started at about 1 pm on Tuesday and ended after 8 pm, ended in deadlock; the
Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, insisted that any of the doctors who refused to report at their duty post would be sacked.

The conciliatory meeting was at the instance of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, who mediated between the resident doctors and the Ministry of Health.

Already, the minister showed his determination to carry out the threat as he directed all Chief Medical Directors (CMDs) of federal hospitals to open a register by 7 am and close it at 12 noon to take a record of those who report for duty and those who failed to turn up.

Tribune Online reports that after the meeting had dragged for several hours and a compromise cannot be reached, members of the association led, by its National President, Dr Aliyu Socumba, angrily stormed out of the meeting.

He threatened that the doctors would only suspend the ongoing action within 24 hours if the government bring something tangible on the table.

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The NARD National President said: “We are not coming back, we told them if something tangible is brought to the table, we can suspend the action within 24 hours but for now, the strike continues.”

When probed further, he said: “I am not coming back, others may come back. The outcome is that all our discussion and demands have not materialised… to a positive outcome and we have assured the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment that once we are able to get a tangible outcome, a notice of the meeting shall be conveyed within 24 hours to review the industrial action.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire who was probably angry by the decision of the NARD leadership to storm out of the meeting said a directive would be issued to medical directors of all the hospitals to open a register to collect records of all who report to work and those who did not.

While briefing journalists on the outcome of the meeting he said the government has an obligation to protect the lives of Nigerians who are suffering from one illness or the other.

He pointed out that there would be a need for ad-hoc arrangements to solve the need at hand.

According to Ehanire, all the pleas to the doctors to see reasons with government, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic fell on deaf ears.

He said: “Health is very important and a critical area at that, and under this circumstance, the health workforce is essential persons. We have pleaded with them over their demands so that the issues can be settled amicably. A number of them (their demands) do have merits, but the government has also tried to meet their demands.

“Sometimes, under pressure the way the system is; we have an obligation as a ministry to be ready to protect the lives of Nigerians, we are not going to allow our hospitals to empty.

“The government has an obligation to support the needs to safeguard the health of the citizens. The resident doctors have told us that they are not going to return to work anytime soon until certain conditions are met and we are not sure that they would not continue expanding the goal post every time we try to reach a solution.

“Therefore, certain steps need to be taken to protect the citizens, particularly those who are in hospitals. This evening the ministry of health will issue a directive to all medical directors and Chief Medical Directors of all federal hospitals across the country to open up a register tomorrow morning by 7 a.m and record all those who come to work and all those who do not come to work.

“Further action would follow that and those who come to work, it will be understood they are still in service and when the register closes at 12 noon we will be able to know who comes to work or not.”

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