The management of Benue State University Teaching Hospital, Makurdi has issued sack letters to over 30 doctors, amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.
This was revealed on Monday 6th April, in a press release by the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) of the hospital.
In the statement which was signed by the president of the association, Dr Amina Japheth Onyewuchi and PRO, Dr Sesugh Matthew Iorfa, the doctors lamented that instead of stepping up preparatory efforts to fight Coronavirus, the hospital management was rather focused on sacking doctors.
They added that the sack was not done in accordance with the laws of their service.
The press release reads in part, “The management has given over 30 doctors sack letters; have rescinded some letters and have also upheld others in a haphazard and subjective manner that doesn’t not just follow the laws regulating the service of resident doctors in Nigeria, but is also a disservice to the suffering people of Benue State.
“The training of resident doctors in Nigeria is regulated by the 2017 medical residency training act (MRTA) which is very explicit of how a doctor should enter and leave residency training. The Act allows resident doctors to train and pass all exams over an eight and half to nine year period as against the six years that the management of Benue State University Teaching Hospital wants to impose on resident doctors here.
“The Act also empowers the National Postgraduate Medical College (NPMCN) as the only body who can recommend resident doctors for exit from the residency program on the grounds of duration. The NPMCN sends the names of resident doctors due to exit the training every six months to training institutions. Their last of such letters was on the 10th of March, 2020 and none of the residents in Benue State University Teaching Hospital was listed for exit.
“If there was any doubt, the management of BSUTH should borrow a leaf from her sister health institution, Federal Medical Centre Makurdi where the 2017 MRTA has been adopted is being used. No resident doctor who has spent less than eight years has been sacked.
“Many of the doctors being told their time has expired have not been sent by the management for mandatory postings they are to undergo before completing their programs. This, the management blames on the gross shortage of doctors in this hospital. Our doctors have their training stagnated (some for over 3 years) by the management, only to be issued sack letters that their time is done, when it was the fault of the management who refused to release them for those postings.
“Also, management have refused to take into account the periods when some departments did not have/ lost accreditation and resident doctors were not able to go for exams. All the lost time, the management has factored into their purported six year residency program.
“Additionally, the sponsorship of resident doctors for update courses and exams has been ignored by the management of BSUTH, leaving resident doctors to their fate. The last time a resident doctor was given full sponsorship in this hospital was 5 years ago.”
The doctors said they had written letters to the management of the hospital and the Government in a bid to get them reverse the decision but have not been successful, forcing them to toe the line of an industrial action.
The association said instead of going on strike immediately, they have chosen to give a 21-day ultimatum to allow for intervention by well-meaning members of the public.
“It is in the interest of Benue people, especially in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic, that we have decided against the immediate commencement of an industrial action even though this matter warrants it. We have rather chosen to give a 21 day ultimatum, after which we will have no choice than to opt for an indefinite strike action.”
The doctors demanded for the immediate withdrawal of sack letters issued resident doctors and reinstatement of those already sacked; and also the adoption and full implementation of the 2017 MRTA as currently obtainable in training institutions across Nigeria.
They therefore called on the Governor of Benue State, His Excellency, Dr Samuel Ortom; His Royal Majesty, the Tor Tiv V, Orchiviligh Professor J. O. Ayatse, the Och’Idoma His Royal Highness, Agabaidu Elias Ikoyi Obekpa, and all other well-meaning sons and daughters of Benue State to intervene and avert a crisis.