Barely 24 hours after making the controversial move of sacking 788 striking medical doctors in its employ, the Lagos state government has indicated interest in having negotiations with the sacked doctors.
Speaking to journalists yesterday, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, said that “government is still available for negotiation.”
“The issue of negotiation has not been fore-closed; when they are willing, we are willing to dialogue with them, but our first priority is to restore services to the health sector,” he said.
“We are still ready to dialogue with the doctors and even negotiate. We have over time bent and bent to accommodate their demands. Sacking was not a palatable decision for us to take.”
Idris said, “The Minister for Health has called and other stakeholders but I say our doors are still open for dialogue. But the state government reserves the right to sack the doctors and individuals also have the right to go on strike.”
Speaking on the employment of new doctors in the state, the Commissioner said it was a last resolve by the state government since the striking doctors refused to see reason with them and that the newly employed doctors have resumed work.
“The new doctors we recruited would have resumed today. Together with the new doctors that we have, Lagos presently has over 1,000 doctors in its employ and many doctors from all over Nigeria and the world have signified interest to work with us since this dispute and recruitment process began.”
“But we tried not to employ because we were still waiting for them to see reasons with us. We wanted to prevent it but the doctors were adamant.”
Idris said Governor Babatunde Fashola in a meeting with the doctors last week Wednesday had appealed to the doctors who turned deaf ears to his plea.
According to him, the State House of Assembly had also called a meeting with the doctors on Saturday to urge them to resume work but the doctors had shunned all efforts of the state government and dared them to go ahead with any action they deemed fit.
On their part, the Nigerian Medical Association has said that the sack was totally unacceptable. The newly elected National President of the Nigerian Medical Association, and a Consultant Family Physician, Dr. Osahon Enabulele said: “Our position is that the sack is totally unacceptable. It is an in indication of the fact that government did not listen to the voice of reasoning.”
“The earlier we revert to dialogue and drive mission of development in the healthcare, the better for all. The sack order by government is not in the interest of the people of Lagos, the state government and the governor. It is necessary for the government to have a rethink to go back to negotiation table. It is unfortunate that things degenerated to this extent.”
Meanwhile, the Chief Medical Director, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, Prof David Oke, said this sack means that his hospital has lost a lot of doctors. “It means that we have lost many of our good hands. It’s going to affect services and it means that to an extent it is going to affect the teaching of residents and students in the medical school. But we are putting up contingency plans, such as making a list of consultants/lecturers who were affected by the sack.”
What is unclear however is if the state government’s willingness to negotiate with striking doctors would result in restating the sacked doctors back to their positions. 788 doctors missing from the hospitals would surely create a huge deficit in the health sector that cannot be made up for within a short period. The negotiations might actually be a good move if they would lead to the reversion of the state government’s sack.
What is your own opinion? Should the doctors be restated back to their positions or should the Lagos state government still uphold the dismissal of the doctors?
Please share your thoughts.
News Source: Punch | Vanguard | Daily Times