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LASUTH doctors threaten another strike over acute shortage of personnel

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…says doctors are overworked, slumping on duty

…We will resolve the problem before Monday – Management

By Chioma Obinna

Resident doctors at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, yesterday threatened to resume its suspended strike following state government failure to meet its promises to replace exited resident doctors and house officers during their last industrial action.

The protesting doctors in Bayelsa recently.

According to the doctors, currently, LASUTH has less than 200 resident doctors as against standard prescribed 840, which by implication means a working ratio of one resident doctor to 4 consultants in some units.

Meanwhile, the Chief Medical Director of LASUTH, Prof, Adetokunbo Fabamwo, has promised to resolve the problem before the end of the week to avert the industrial action.

Briefing journalists on the three –day total warning strike billed to begin Monday, 28th January 2019, the President, Association of Resident Doctors, LASUTH-ARD, Dr Balogun Fatai said their members are overworked due to the perennial shortage of resident doctors and house officers in LASUTH.  Just last week one of the doctors slumped while on ward round.

“Members have had to be on call every day over several months working. Some now live in their cars.  Our members are chronically overworked and falling ill every now and then as one man is now made to take duties of 6 to 8 men.   More doctors are resigning and no replacement.

Balogun who recalled that the association suspended its strike four months ago based on promises for the replacement and affirmation of the approval of the government, regretted that the state government has failed to keep its own side of the agreement.

“We have exhausted all available means of communication with both the hospital management and government. This crisis has been a recurrent event over the past several years without any structured policy put in place to ensure seamless replacement of exited and existing doctors. Thereby, this creates loopholes in the provision of optimal clinical service delivery.

“It is made to appear that the only means understood by them is an avoidable industrial action. All we are asking for is seamless employment of resident doctors and house officers; this should not be a tall order. The association is left with no option but to reluctantly resume the suspended strike with a three-day warning total strike which inevitably commences at 8:00 am on Monday, Jan. 28, 2019, “ he said.

He regretted that the shortage of doctors has added to the long waiting period and inefficient suboptimal health service delivery at the hospital.

He further disclosed that 80 house officers are being budgeted for every year but currently, the government was able to employ 55 after their struggle, leaving out 25 house officers as promised.

“LASUTH has never met the 840 resident doctors working ration. The highest they have ever employed was 300 but the national recommendation is 6 resident doctors to 1 consultant.

He appealed to the management and the state government to save the doctors and employ more resident doctors and house officers to avert the strike.

Reacting to the situation, the newly appointed Chief Medical Director, Prof. Adetokunbo Fabamwo, who confirmed that he met the problem on ground explained that the management was monitoring the situation and optimistic that there would be positive results to avert the strike.

According to him, the strike may not hold as they are working towards resolving the issue before Monday.

“The Head of Service, Mr Hakeem Muri-Okunola would ensure that all the paperwork needed in the recruitment of doctors would be made possible.  The Head of Service believes there should be a template for automatic replacement of doctors and he says he will work toward that in order to stop the shortage, “ he told reporters

“I am not happy that they are already planning strike even when I have discussed with them that I will personally take up the issue and ensure it is resolved but I am assuring you that we will get a positive response,” he added.

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