The Lagos State government has said the sacking of the 788 doctors in its employ is not a ploy to decimate the medical profession as being alleged by the Nigeria Medical Association.
The government described its action as an intervention by a “responsible administration” to prevent deaths in its hospital.
The state’s Head of Service, Mr. Adesegun Ogunlewe, stated this in a statement on Saturday.
The NMA members in federal hospitals in Lagos had on Friday embarked on solidarity strike to press home its demand for the recall of their sacked colleagues.
Ogunlewe explained that while the doctors had the right to declare an industrial dispute through a strike, they also had a duty to serve notice on government so that adequate preparations could be made to monitor patients on admission in hospitals.
Ogunlewe said, “The decision of the doctors under the Medical Guild to abandon the hospitals without the notice stipulated by law caught government by surprise and led to many deaths. No responsible government will tolerate that.”
Ogunlewe argued that in developed countries, the medical doctors would have had to deal with criminal suits from patients for abandoning them.
He said NMA action and claim on the sacking amounted to blackmail.
“It is begging the question to accuse the state government of attempting to decimate the medical profession when indeed the government had invested heavily in human personnel and physical infrastructure in the health sector to globally acknowledged level.”
He added that the sacking of the doctors was necessary in order to protect the public service and ensure that illegality did not become the order of the day.
On the allegation that Governor Babatunde Fashola left the meeting with NMA mid-way, Ogunlewe explained that the real grouse of the doctors was the refusal of the governor to overrule their employers, the Health Services Commission.
“The governor told the doctors that it would amount to a breach of procedure to overrule the commission and the Lagos University Teaching Hospital Board by executive fiat
“If we are talking about the need to build and respect institutions, then it’s wrong to expect the governor to just over rule an institution like that.
“There is an established procedure through which these errant doctors were recruited, queried and sanctioned.
“The same established procedure has a process for appealing and the best path to a resolution of the situation is for the sacked doctors to seek recourse to the procedure.”