2nd November, 2010
For about three months now, doctors employed by the Lagos State Government have embarked on an indefinite strike to press home their demand for better remunerations at par with their counterparts in the federal civil service.
The doctors have argued that they are seeking parity in pay with their federal counterparts because they do virtually the same job and so there is no reason why they should earn less than them.
Following the strike, the activities in most of the hospitals owned by the state government have been virtually paralysed, with nurses and a few medical personnel rendering skeletal services to patients who have nowhere to go. At the onset of the strike, relatives of most of the patients withdrew them and took them to private hospitals while those who could not afford the high bills charged by private hospitals resorted to the use of herbal medicine.
The majority of herbal medicine practitioners as we all know, employ crude and unprofessional method in their treatment procedure. This has resulted in many patients dying from minor ailments that could have been better treated by professionals.
Perhaps, a measure of the serious impact the doctorsâ€™ strike is having on hapless patients was underscored by the plea made by the Medical Director of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Ara, that the strike has led to a congestion in the hospital following the influx of patients from Lagos State hospitals to LUTH. The medical director appealed to the striking doctors to call off their strike and embrace dialogue in the interest of the patients.
It is an understatement to state that hundreds of patients that could have been treated have died as a result of the ongoing strike. We also note the various appeals by well meaning individuals to the striking doctors to call off the strike in the interest of patients. Of note here are pleas by the former governor of the state, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Oba of Lagos, HRH Rilwan Akiolu and others.
The state Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has also pleaded with the striking doctors to go back to work and open negotiation with the government on the matter, but all to no avail. Rather, the doctors are insisting that the state government sign an agreement assuring them of the time it will start paying them the same salary earned by their federal counterparts. The refusal by the doctors to resume work after all pleas may have informed governmentâ€™s plan to replace all the doctors if they remain adamant.
We believeÂ that sacking the doctors is not the solution to the problem at hand. We agree that the doctors have stretched the patience of government and other stakeholders to the limit and something should be done to normalise the situation. We are calling on the government to once again, call the doctors to a negotiation table to resolve the dispute.
Just as the doctors have the right to seek better remuneration, the government also has to ensure that their demand will not dislocate the stateâ€™s finance. We say enough is enough. The striking doctors should see reason and dialogue with the government on an improved remuneration. This is the only way to save the hospitals in Lagos from collapsing. Fashola should meet the leadership of the striking doctors one-on-one and thrash out the issue.