The Lagos State Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr Tope Ojo, has condemned the suspension of resident doctors by the Federal Government, describing it as laws seen only during the “draconian military era” which “gives sad nostalgia”.
He also accused the Federal Government of “neglecting the key challenges that should be addressed”.
He berated the Federal Government for accusing the resident doctors of performing below average, and reiterated the call for the restructuring of the residency programme to ensure the production of the highest level of medical specialists. This, he added, is part of the 24 demand made by the NMA to the Federal Government.
He said the decision was coming at a wrong time because “there is a high level of inadequacy” in the sector, which had forced some Nigerians to go abroad for treatment, adding that “employment into the residency programme is haphazard. When you pass your primaries, they will be looking for space all around” to accommodate you.
“If you have a residency board, this will be holistically looked at and you will have a placement arrangement that will be handled by this board,” he said.
He emphasised the importance of the resident doctors in the medical sector saying “the residents form the bulk”. “You can have a board where you have four consultants and about 20 residents at different level of training. They participate profusely, deeply and seriously in the training of medical students; which means that there will be no medical training that will go on,” Dr Ojo emphasised.
He also added that the “post graduate resident training has to do with the mid level training of the middle level manpower in the health sector.
“They are people going through a minimum period of six years in different fields,” he maintained.
Dr Ojo also stated that apart from resident doctors conducting over 50 per cent of the tutorials in the medical schools, their contributions in hospitals is vital to the survival of the health sector
He said if the suspension was not withdrawn, “major surgical operations are shut” because “the consultants don’t perform operations alone”.
“The resident doctors prepare patients for the operation from the clinic,” he said, insisting that a neurosurgeon can’t perform an operation with the help of a medical officer.
Dr Ojo, however, called on Nigeria’s political class to patronise Nigerian health institutions and to desist from “picking policies that will shut down operations in the health sector”.
He also noted that the suspension was a calculated attempt by the Federal Government to break the ranks of the NMA, but he assured that the association “remains stronger”. “Our minimum condition to resume negotiation is for government to reverse this unpalatable decision,” he said.
FG Justifies Sack Of Resident Doctors
Meanwhile the Federal Government in a statement by the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, justified the suspension of the Residency Training Programme in all federal hospitals, “as part of efforts to reposition the public health sector”.
Professor Chuwku also said that “the quality of training has also progressively declined over the last decade despite recent efforts by the Jonathan Administration to revamp it”.
The Minister also added that the Residency Training Programme in all hospital in recent times had been beset by numerous challenges, including poor performance and unsatisfactory conduct of the resident doctors.
“The terms of admission to the Residency Training Programmes stipulate that either party (employer or employee) may terminate the relationship by giving one month notice or one month salary in lieu of notice.
“Accordingly, all affected doctors will receive one month salary in lieu of one month notice. One of the reasons for employer-initiated determination of the appointment, according to terms of the probationary residency appointment, is unsatisfactory performance by the resident doctor,” he said.
The Minister, however, stressed that “only resident doctors under the employ of the Federal Government are affected. Resident doctors employed by state governments in their hospitals and by private hospitals are not affected”.