Judex Okoro, Calabar
Crisis rocking University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH) has continued to gather momentum as doctors and laboratory scientists are at war over who controls the laboratories.
While the College of Nigerian Pathologists (CNP) members said they were well-trained medical professionals to handle laboratory results, the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMSLN) member argued that MLSCN Cap 11, 2003 as well as the federal scheme of service only recognised them.
The medical laboratory scientists’ Chairman, Agbor Awona, had further asked President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene and save them from doctors’ harassment, intimidation and acts of terror.
However, the recent face-off between the two unions started on September 5, 2019 when a group, consisting of some medical laboratory scientists (MLS), their intern trainee as well as their university undergraduate MLS students from all the five classes of their five year undergraduate programmes, invaded laboratories and verbally and physically assaulted doctors who were on their duty posts at the four pathology departments.
Investigations by Daily Sun showed that since then the infighting between the two unions has led to series of open confrontations, harassments, intimidations and fisticuffs, leading to closure of laboratory medicine departments and subsequent loss of revenue.
Briefing newsmen on the incident, the CNP spokesperson, David Edem, decried the continued cases of physical assault on their colleagues and deliberate infractions of both undergraduate and postgraduate medical training programsme as well as the negligent breakdown of law and order in UCTH
Edem, who doubles as the secretary of the pathologists, said there is a pervasive hate-the-doctor campaign which has culminated into about 10 of their members being physically attacked and psychological injuries inflicted on them between 2010 and 2019.
He said: “There is high cost of lost revenue if laboratory medicine departments remain under sabotage by the scientists. We, therefore, insist that there should be a re-enactment of professional scheme of service as is clearly stated in the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, Act 2004 regulating laboratory medicine departments. Particularly, the organogram and job descriptions should be strictly followed as prescribed in the Act.
“The scientists should be warned to desist from attacks on doctors who are on their lawful duties. Bench call duties are compulsory laboratory medicine practices. All laboratory results must be submitted to the pathologists for professional review and confirmation before the department issues such results for use in patients care within and outside the UCTH. Call duties for pathologists should be separated and unhindered by the recurrent incursions by the laboratory scientists.”
According to the College of Doctors, peace would return in the hospital if all those who perpetrated the September 1 to 5, 2019 mayhem are publicly brought to book to serve as deterrence, warning the scientists to cease from further heating up the system in the use of falsehood to misinform the public about their activities in the UCTH.
Chief Medical Director, Ikpeme Ikpeme, had earlier warned the scientists for trying to disrupt activities in the teaching hospital, describing their action as irresponsible.
“This is irresponsible unionism at its peak. As a responsible management, it would be an exercise in futility to join issues with already poisoned minds, apart from pre-empting the outcome of reports of panels of inquiry set up by the managements of the hospital and the University of Calabar to investigate the matter,” he said.