RELIEF came yesterday for the Lagos health sector, with the government suspending the sack of 788 doctors.

The suspension followed a closed door meeting between Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) National Leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who was prompted to intervene in the crisis by the leadership of the party and well meaning Nigerians.

Tinubu, who addressed reporters alongside the governor at the Ikeja House, Alausa yesterday, urged the doctors to return to work.

He said: “I have been meeting with the governor to discuss the appeal of all the leadership of the party and well meaning Nigerians and other organisations who are committed to the welfare of our people for him to be more flexible, for him to really look at the issue of the doctors’ strike critically and I can announce to you that he has agreed to suspend the question of the dismissal of those doctors.”

The former governor said there was need to work hard and build institutions that would develop people and prioritise the welfare of the masses, adding that there has not been any problem without resolution.

His words: “The governor has agreed to suspend the dismissal and advise that they should go back to their work and follow the right procedure. I don’t see a point of no-return here and since people are the cornerstone of the progressive policy of the state, I want to thank the governor for looking at it from the point of view of the people, the general concern and I want to advise and appeal to the doctors to immediately resume their work in earnest and forget this intractable position.

“We can solve all those problems; I don’t want to comment further until all parties respect this outcome. The governor all along has not said it’s impossible; it’s a question of the institution that we all have developed. He has repeated it several times, the hiring and firing of the doctors is in the hands of the Health Service Commission (HSC). I am very much aware of it and I have to understand him.

“ I have reviewed with even the honourable commissioner concerned and I don’t see any area that cannot be resolved to avoid outright dismissal and since some of them have considered the fact that people, their professional calling, their Hippocratic Oath put the lives and the welfare of our people, both old and young and we are trying to build a great healthcare system in the state, I don’t see why we can’t resolve it and the governor agreed to be more flexible and be more accommodating and be the leader for all.”

Fashola said having considered the appeal from the people, he has directed the Commission to reverse the sack.

“I will like to thank the party and our leaders and leaders of labour organisations especially the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), for playing intercessory role in this matter and all the well meaning people on both sides who have chosen to mediate rather than to take sides,” Fashola said, adding:

“The issues are disputes about institutions and nothing more and how we could work together to provide better healthcare. One could not hear those appeals and also the appeals of the ordinary people of the state and remain unmindful of all the responses to them.

“And it is in that light that I have consulted with the HSC and they have assured me that the issue of dismissal will be suspended immediately. It is now left for the doctors to return to their locations and to regularise their status with the Health Service Commission and I hope that in the interest of our people, they will seize the opportunity of this olive branch and let us get on with the developmental work that we are tasked with at this time.”

Medical Guild Chairman Dr. Olumuyiwa Odusote, who responded to the development on telephone said: “I was just informed about the development. It has not been formally communicated to us. If it is true, we have onus to resume work on conditions. First, we’ll continue negotiation. Second, there is no going back on the agreement reached with the Medical Guild in March 2011.”

The dispute arose over the new Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) and teaching allowance for house officers.

The government on May 7 sacked the doctors following their participation in a warning strike between April 11 and 13 under the aegis of the Medical Guild.

The Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) Board and the State’s Health Service Commission (HSC) announced the sack.

In a statement, Head of Service Adesegun Ogunlewe said the two bodies sacked the doctors as a result of their failure to explain why they were absent from work without leave and without the due observance of the rules and regulations guiding strikes and industrial actions in the Public Service.

The affected doctors included 316 working with LASUTH and 472 working in other hospitals.

via The Nation

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