13th August, 2010
Health activities in General Hospitals in Lagos State, Nigeria have been paralysed due to the inability of the Lagos State Government to pay the federal wages its doctors are demanding for.
The doctors, under the aegis of the Medical Guild of the Lagos State Chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, working in the stateâ€™s hospitals embarked on an indefinite strike yesterday demanding the immediate implementation of the new Federal Government Approved Consolidated Medical Salary Structure, CONMESS approved for doctors at the federal level.
The doctors had given the state government between Monday and yesterday to meet its demand or face industrial action, while they also wanted the government to immediately pay all its arrears from January, 2010 as well as withdraw cases against the body pending in court.
The Lagos State Government refused to implement the new federal salary structure on the ground that the package was worked out for federal doctors alone and that the state government was not part of the agreement reached at the federal level.
Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, when contacted confirmed that some doctors were on strike, but noted that some were still working.
He said the issue had to do with the recent new package for doctors at the federal level, which doctors in the stateâ€™s hospitals wanted the government to implement.
According to him, the state NMA was trying to force government to pay the new wage increase approved for federal doctors which the government could not pay and would not be forced to do so.
Idris stated that government would continue to support doctors who did not join the strike and had been working assiduously to meet the demands of the patients.
The commissioner said that the agitation of doctors in its hospitals for increment in salaries had become too frequent and worrisome, saying that they got increase in their salaries early this year.
The state government has begun to employ the services of consultants to carry on the work of administering treatment to thousands of patients in the stateâ€™s public hospitals, which are generally inconsequential to meet the teeming needs of the people.
The Island Maternity Hospital, Lagos is seriously affected by the strike as doctors stayed away work, likewise many other general hospitals across the state.
A nurse at Island Maternity, who craved anonymity, told P.M. NEWS that the doctors have stayed away from work, while the management of the hospital had begun to use consultants to render skeletalÂ services to the people.
She said that the hospital only had six consultants to attend to about 150 patients, which was grossly inadequate
National Secretary General, NMA, Dr. Audu Bala told P.M. NEWS that the national body was not aware of the strike and that it was never informed about the ongoing strike.
Former NMA President, Ore Falomo said yesterday that the so-called increase in allowance granted to federal doctors could not be implemented in Lagos State since the state government was not a party to the increase. According to him, there was no way the state government could pay the new wage increase since it was not a party to it and that government had been paying increased wages to doctors in Lagos State.
Doctors in public hospitals had for years been engaging in a running battle with the state government over what they termed poor welfare package and lack of tools to work within the hospitals.
They had embarked on several strikes in order to force government to dance to its demands, thus, crippling the health sector of the state.
The last strike it embarked on early this year led to increase in their salaries by the state government.