The Lagos State Government has dismissed the 788 doctors who participated in a three-day warning strike between April 11 and 13 in the state.
Investigations by our correspondent, however, revealed that the state government is already inducting 373 doctors that will resume this week. When our correspondent visited the Island Maternity Hospital, Lagos, on Monday, the new doctors were attending a workshop.
The Chairman of the Medical Guild, Dr. Olumuyiwa Odusote, who spoke to The PUNCH on Monday in Lagos, confirmed that the striking doctors had been sacked. He said that the state government had given all the doctors letters of termination of appointment for failing to reply the three letters of query and a letter of summons asking them to appear before the personnel management board on April 24.
Odusote said, “I just received the termination letters for doctors in LASUTH. Other doctors in other public hospitals have received the dismissed letters signed by the chief medical directors of their various state hospitals. It is actually dated the 4th of April, but they sent it to our secretariat on Monday morning. takes immediate effect. We are to vacate the premises immediately, even our secretariat.”
The letter, which was signed by Prof. David Oke, reads, “This is to inform you that the Personnel Management Board ( Disciplinary Committee) which held between Tuesday 24th and Thursday 25th April 2012, has established a case of misconduct and absence from duty without leave or reasonable case between Wednesday 11th and Friday 13th April 2012 against you.
“You are also guilty of insubordination for failing to respond to lawful queries issued to you. The committee therefore recommends your dismissal from service.
In accordance with the provision of the civil service rule NOS/04502/04507/04508, the board has approved your dismissal. I, thereby convey your “DISMISSAL” from Lagos State service effective from Friday, 4th, 2012.
By this letter, you are hereby advised to hand over all government properties in your possession to the office of the Chief Medical Director immediately.”
Odusote, however, said that the Nigerian Medical Association had called for an emergency congress meeting with the sacked doctors to decide on their next line of action.
“We are going to see the implication of this dismissal immediately. The NMA and the Medical Guild will definitely react to this unjust action of the Lagos State Government as it makes history today by laying off a major workforce in its health sector.”
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, has threatened to shut down health services in Lagos if government fails to retract its decision after a proposed meeting with the state government within the next 24 hours.
Reacting to the sack shortly after an emergency congress of the association in Lagos on Monday, the Chairman,Lagos NMA, Dr. Temiye Edamisan, threatened that federal doctors in the state would embark on an indefinite strike if the state government did not withdraw the dismissal letters.
One of the newly inducted 373 doctors who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity at the Island Maternity Hospital on Monday, said that the state government had organised a seminar and training session for the fresh doctors and they had also been given letters of employment.
She said, “We have been given letters of employment and we are set to start this week. This seminar is just to brush us up on the conditions of service and other modes of operation in public service. We were told to sign letters of undertaking about administrative policies.
“I will get the letter of deployment today. I do not know which hospital I’m going to be posted yet. By the end of today, we should have received our letters of posting and deployment to various state hospitals.”
Various units of the Island Maternity Hospital were locked with padlocks on Monday. Police officers and other security officials were seen patrolling the area.
Another inductee who refused to disclose his name said the state government had taken security measures to prevent striking or aggrieved doctors from disrupting the induction process at the hospital.
He said, “We are over 200 doctors that are being inducted today. I came from Oyo. We were told not to fret or be threatened by the striking doctors as the policemen are supposed to prevent anybody from vandalising equipment in the hospitals and also stop aggrieved doctors who may want to disrupt the induction process which is a private affair.”
In a statement by the Lagos State Head of Service, Mr. Adesegun Ogunlewe, on Monday, the state government said the strike came as a shock, “since the leadership of the Medical Guild still met during the week preceding the illegal strike with top government officials in charge of health and establishment sectors.”
The statement noted further, “…in order to ensure that the healthcare delivery service of the state continues to function for the benefit of the people, the state government has placed advertisement in some national dailies seeking applications from suitably qualified medical doctors and consultants/specialists desirous of working with the government, “adding that “the response has been overwhelming.”
There had been a lingering dispute between the state government and its doctors under the aegis of the Medical Guild and the Nigerian Medical Association over the non-implementation of the Consolidated Medical Salary Scale since September 2009 when the circular was released by the Federal Government.
After several agitations on the part of the doctors, they embarked on an indefinite strike in August 2010.
The Medical Guild eventually suspended the strike in March 2011, after the state government agreed to implement the CONMESS.
However, when the state failed to honour the agreement, the medical guild embarked on another three-day warning strike to remind the government of the March 2011 agreement.