As the COVID-19 pandemic hits a peak in Ondo State, Resident Doctors at the University of Medical Sciences Teaching Hospital, UNIMETH, have been sacked by the state government.
The sack of the doctors was contained in a memo announcing the suspension of the institution’s residency training programme from August 1st, 2020
According to the memo dated June 23, 2020, the Resident Doctors directly employed by the hospital were advised to seek continuation of their training in other institutions where there is an ongoing residency programme.
The sacking of the doctors may not be unconnected with the indefinite strike action embarked upon by the doctors, last week.
The Chairman, Media Committee of the Resident Doctors, Dr. Olagbe Taiwo had listed the demands of his colleagues to include the provision of PPEs and other safety measures to save their members from COVID-19, payment of outstanding arrears from September 2019 to May 2020, as well as payment of 50 percent COVID-19 allowance amongst others.
The letter announcing the suspension of the residency programme which was signed by the Director of Administration of the University of Medical Sciences Teaching Hospital, Adeeyo Babatunde, explained that the move was to allow the hospital focus on service delivery to combat the COVID-19 outbreak without the distraction of agitations from the Resident Doctors.
The letter, however, indicated that some resident doctors might be considered for re-admission when the programme recommenced.
Chief Medical Director, UNIMEDTH, Dr. Oluwole Ige, berated the Residents Doctors saying they were more interested in unionism than a commitment to work.
Dr. Ige said the doctors were the most disruptive group to the growth of the hospital despite earning the best pay package among other groups of doctors in the hospital.
While describing their sack as a joke that could crumble the health sector in the state, Dr. Olagbe said comments from the CMD were regrettable and unfortunate stating that their agitations were genuine because of non-payment of salaries and arrears.
Reacting to the development, the state government in a statement said that the doctors were not sacked but assured that the issues between the Resident Doctors and UNIMEDTH were being looked into.
A statement issued by the Commissioner for Information, Donald Ojogo said “For the records, whatever issues that led to the strike action by the Doctors under the Residency Programme and the reprimand by the Management of UNIMED Teaching Hospital are currently being looked into. Such shall be resolved by Monday, hopefully.
“Government, therefore, wishes to urge the General public to be wary of those who have chosen to creep into an unavailable political space. This is a purely administrative and professional issue attracting desirable attention and must not be politicized in any form.
“We wish to, therefore, emphasize that at no time did the State Government sack Doctors as the public is being made to erroneously believe. It should be noted that the UNIMED Residency arrangement is the first since the establishment of the Nation’s premier medical University. It is mostly undertaken by the Federal Government as many States do not find financial space for such.
“Nonetheless, it is pertinent to clarify that there is a wide difference between Doctors employed by the State Government and those under a Residency Programme. The Residency is a Post Graduate Programme usually sponsored by Governments even as such beneficiaries render services for a specific period. In effect, Doctors under the Residency Programme are more or less, temporary Staff members who qualify as Consultants after their period of training.”