Many would say that doctors have no need to go on strike, that they should never go on strike. They are bound by ‘The Hippocratic Oath’ and should offer their services free-of-charge if need be. Yet, others are of the opinion that doctors, like other employees and service providers have a right to press their grievance with an industrial strike action if need be.
Doctors in state-owned hospitals in Lagos under the aegis of the Medical Guild have withdrawn their services from today, leaving the hospitals deserted and patients unattended to. Despite repeated pleas from the public to both the doctors and the government to avert the strike, both parties have refused to reach a compromise, hence the strike action.
The doctors are on a three-day warning strike to press home their demands for the implementation of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure, CONMESS, as well as the downward review of excessive taxation, which the government imposed on the doctors.
Vanguard News reports that between August and November 2010 and February and April 2011, doctors in the Lagos State employment withdrew their services to press for the same implementation of CONMESS and other demands. In March, 2011, the Lagos State Government approved the implementation of CONMESS for all doctors in the state and thereafter, the strike was suspended.
However, the doctors say that despite the promises made by the state government to implement CONMESS, the agents of the government have continued to manipulate the agreement to suit their own purpose and CONMESS has not yet been implemented.
Hence from today, state owned hospitals are closed to patients leaving thousands of people with health problems in a quagmire. Some of the affected hospitals are Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Isolo General Hospital, Gbagada General Hospital, Ikorodu General Hospital & Badagry General Hospital.
Furthermore, the uncompromising stances of both parties complicates the issue and it now seems there is no end in sight to their grievance.
Chairman of the Medical Guild, Dr. Olumuyiwa Odusote, told Vanguard News that the state government has continued to fool the doctors with what he described as “flimsy excuses” not to pay the approved and signed salary structure by Governor Babatunde Fashola.
On the other hand, the state government has threatened that doctors who partake in the planned three-day warning strike will forfeit wages accrued to them within the period of the strike in accordance with the Trade Dispute Act. The State Head of Service, Mr. Adesegun Ogunlewe made reference to the provision of Section 43(1) of the Trade Dispute Act, and said it would henceforth be enforced in the state.
As the doctors and governement continue in their grievance, the health of thousands of people is now at risk. These hospitals offer specialist and general out-patient services to a larger percentage of the state’s population. Their rates are usually lesser than what is obtainable at private hospitals.
For those who can’t afford these private hospitals, where do they turn to? Is there any end in sight to these continued grievances between doctors and the Lagos state government? In your opinion, what should be done to avert such strike actions in the future?
Also, what do you think? Should doctors ever go on strike?
Please share your thoughts.
News Source: Vanguard News