FMC management wades into doctors’ strike in Bayelsa

Medical doctor
Simon Utebor, Yenagoa
The management of Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, has revealed that plans are underway to resolve the industrial dispute with resident doctors who embarked on strike over salary arrears.
The intervention came just as the strike embarked upon by doctors, under the aegis of the National Association of Resident Doctors about a week ago, has paralysed operations at the Federal Medical facility.
NARD had on November 15, 2016, commenced an indefinite strike to protest non-payment of salaries for past two months and 52 per cent salary shortfall for some months months.
Also, other unions, it was learnt,  have threatened to join the strike if the grievances of the doctors and other workers were not addressed urgently.
A visit to the hospital during the week showed that members of the public who thronged the facility were being turned back by nurses and other health professionals who had yet to join the strike.
The strike which entered its eighth day on Tuesday had rendered the hospital desolate as patients on admission were discharged.
It was observed that only skeletal medical services were being rendered by a few consultants available.
Some persons  were seeing finalising preparations to take their sick loved ones to other health facilities in the Yenagoa metropolis.
“I have no choice but to take my sick father to another hospital because the strike here is affecting us badly and they are not ready to call off the strike soon,” Mr. Augustine Kalizibe said.
Also, a patient, Mr. Bozimor Oduku, who was abruptly discharged, expressed sadness and frustration over the strike.
He said that he could not afford exorbitant medical bills at any private hospitals in Yenagoa, the state capital.
He said, “This strike is taking place at a time of economic hardship. Before coming here for treatment, I had visited many private hospitals but I could not pay.
“One of them advised me to come here. The fees are very affordable except for the high cost of drugs due to the foreign exchange problems.
“Now that I came here for succour, they have asked us to go home.Where do I go from here? To go home and die? God forbid!”
But the Director of Administration at FMC,  Inibaraye Ogoro, said on Tuesday that the hospital management was in talks with the Federal Government to end the strike and prevent other staff from joining the action.
He said that the hospital administration was doing all it could to meet the demands of FMC workers in order to end the strike soon..
A visit to the hospital further revealed that workers turned up in FMC, as they learnt the management had engaged the Health Ministry officials in discussion concerning their salaries backlog.
The Head of Clinical Services, Dr. Preye Numbere, said the strike involved only resident doctors, adding that the hospital was still rendering health services.
He said the consultants were making concerted efforts to fill the gap as the hospital administration had started engaging the management to pay the striking doctors their outstanding salaries as soon as possible.
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