Following the threat by doctors at the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital to embark on indefinite strike from Tuesday next week, the Anambra State government has urged the doctors to allow the process already begun to resolve the crisis to come to a logical conclusion.
Consultants in the hospital said they were resuming the strike because the state government had reneged on the agreement signed with them in July this year. Essentially, the doctors were complaining about poor working conditions, arguing that doctors in the hospital were the least paid among state-owned teaching hospitals in the country.
But the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. Don Adinuba, while reacting on the threat by the doctors, said the committee set up by Governor Willie Obiano on the matter, had almost concluded it work.
“The committee was scheduled to hold its final meeting Tuesday, October 29, 2019, before sending its report to the governor for consideration. Officers of the doctors were informed accordingly. It is, therefore, surprising that while the meeting was about to start, the association’s officials decided to hold a press conference in Awka where they threatened to go on a one-week warning strike if their demands were not met immediately.
“Most members of the public are convinced that the press conference was a mere attempt to stampede the committee to accept uncritically its demands and recommend them to the governor for immediate implementation. Neither the news conference nor the threat was necessary. Both the government and the doctors are basically on the same page.
“Governor Obiano has accepted that the state of affairs at the state teaching hospital is not good enough. He has directed that all doctors, and not just those doing their residency work there, who have not enjoyed any promotion in the last seven years be promoted subject to the required process. The failure to promote them all these long years has to do with the absence of conditions of service in the hospital. To rectify this error and ensure it never reoccurs, a committee of COOATH senior staff was set up to work out how it could be done and the board approved it. The governor has graciously accepted it, too. The implementation will start soon.
“The Anambra State government accepts that the salary structure of the COOUTH doctors is not attractive enough. As is public knowledge, it has consequently asked the independent committee looking into the state of affairs at the teaching hospital to recommend ways to enhance the take-home pay of these doctors. To ensure greater autonomy for the health facility, the committee has also been tasked with finding ways to increase the medical school’s capacity for internal revenue generation. The committee finished its work this morning and is about to submit its report to the governor.
“We, therefore, reiterate that it is not necessary for the doctors to contemplate any strike as the issues in question are being resolved amicably.”