Ondo State government on Tuesday said there was no plan to sack any of the resident doctors who are currently on strike in the state, saying the problem will be addressed before the end of this week.
The Special Adviser to the Ondo State governor on Health Matters, Dr Jibayo Adeyeye, disclosed this while speaking with newsmen over the strike by resident doctors at the University of Medical Sciences Teaching Hospital Ondo and Akure complexes.
Adeyeye denied that the strike action had affected medical operations in the hospitals, saying patients were being attended to by other doctors not affected by the issue.
According to him, the protesting doctors who refused to return to their duty post were recently employed by the government whose appointment processes were still being perfected.
He attributed the delay in payment of all the salary arrears of the resident doctors to the inability to appropriate the hospital’s funds in the budget of last fiscal year.
He explained that the Teaching Hospital began operations after the annual fiscal Appropriation Bill had been concluded and signed into law, thereby leaving the Hospital to run on little funds available pending the next Appropriation Bill for the 2020 fiscal year.
He said ” the doctors that are affected are the newly employed doctors that we just employed and they have not been confirmed. It is not a situation that this administration is owing anybody six months arrears of salaries.
“Over 75 per cent of the doctors are being owed one month and only a few of them are being owed two or three months salaries depending on when they are employed.
“For you to spend government money, it requires appropriation, the State House of Assembly must input it in the budget and it is now that the actions we took in mid-year are now crystallising into payment.
“But I can assure you that the problem will be over this month because we would have started operating the new budget.
He, however, disclosed that the Teaching Hospital was accommodated in the 2020 Appropriation Bill which was signed into law on December 31, 2019, by governor Rotimi Akeredolu.
He said the resident doctors and other workers on the Teaching Hospital’s payroll would begin to receive their salaries as and when due because, in the next three weeks, the hospital would have started operating the 2020 budget.
The Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Dr Oluwole Ige, also explained that insufficient funds were responsible for the inability of the Hospital management to pay the doctors, saying the management of the hospital tried to pay some salaries from the Internally Generated Revenue to sustain some of the resident doctors.
He said there was no plan to divide the protesting doctors but said the money that was available was not enough to pay all the resident doctors, saying after agreeing with the resident doctors, the management could pay 33 doctors with the available fund without any preference.
He insisted that 75 percent of the resident doctors are owed two or three months salaries, which he assured would be hopefully cleared by the end of the month.
Adeyeye dismissed the rumour that the management was planning to sack the doctors on strike, saying there were no plans to do such and appealed to the doctors to shelve the strike and return to work.