Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Medical Doctors in the employ of the Bayelsa State Government have embarked on an indefinite industrial action.
Part of their demands included addressing the working conditions of doctors in the state employ especially the disparity in earnings between doctors working in federal and state-owned health institutions due to improper placement in terms of salary scale.
They are demanding payment of rural allowance for doctors working in Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital (NDUTH) Okolobiri, Yenagoa Local Government Area and payment of enhanced hazard allowance for those handling COVID-19 patients.
Other issues include tackling acute shortage of manpower and upgrading of health facilities particularly at the NDUTH
The Doctors including Consultants decided to down tools following the refusal of the state government to honour their demands after they suspended the initial strike they embarked upon.
Recently Governor Douye Diri through the deputy governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo had assured the Doctors two of their major demands have been addressed.
Investigations revealed government foot dragging on some decisions reached which included payment of hazard allowance and rural allowance for doctors at the NDUTH has led to the new strike.
The Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) Dr Peter Alabrah said the doctors embarked on the strike to press home their demands.
According to him the doctors cannot depend on verbal agreement when government should have shown commitment by circulating agreements reached for implementation.
“If you work in government you would know verbal agreement is not that matters. The agreement reached has not been sent in circulars for implementation. Government has not pay the rural allowance for doctors working at NDUTH and on COVID-19 it has also not paid hazard allowance”
Sources in Government House said a government delegation is set to meet the doctors to suspend the strike as government would do the needful.
Meanwhile the fear has gripped COVID-19 patients over adequate medical care following the strike embarked upon by in the State hospitals with NDUTH being of the affected as the main Isolation centre in the state.
The COVID-19 patients from NDUTH have been transferred to Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Yenagoa, but there have been several complaints of inadequate care due to shortage of doctors at FMC to attend to COVID-19 patients.
Findings indicated that the COVID-19 state task force had expressed worry over the implication of government allowing the strike to commence but they have frustrated with slow pace of negotiations with doctors.