UCTH: Residents Doctors Issues New Ultimatum Over Infrastructure, Unpaid Arrears As Lab Scientists Get New Executives

In Breaking News, Health, National News

By Obeten Godfrey and Patricia Ilam

The Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) in the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH) has issued a fresh 21 day ultimatum to the hospital’s management to address issues bordering on payment of salary shortfalls and dilapidated structures.

The ultimatum formed part of the resolution at the association’s emergency general meeting held on Monday to analyse the seven days warning strike embarked upon over same issues.

The resolutions were contained in a communiqué issued by the association and signed by the Chairman, Dr. Antigha Cobham and Secretary, Dr. Esuaiko Akaninye said the ARD noted with, “utmost displeasure, that contrary to the assertions contained in the letter from the Chief Medical Director (CMD) UCTH to the Association, the 25% shortfall of August, 2017 salary arrears and others as promised, have yet to be released to our members, a situation viewed as disrespectful to ARD-UCTH and its entire membership.”

The ARD said that: “The security situation within the hospital, sanitation/ unhygienic conditions and power supply to critical service areas of the hospital are still in the deplorable state they were, before the warning strike,” and added that: “No visible effort to ameliorate the various highlighted issues, have been put in place by management of UCTH, with the aim of achieving amicable conflict resolution with ARD-UCTH and its members.”

The ARD then resolved that: “A fresh 21-day ultimatum be issued to the management of UCTH, Calabar commencing today Monday 12th November, 2018 to expire on the 3rd December, 2018 to allow management ample opportunity to make good on all its promises to ARD-UCTH.”

The ARD which expressed dissatisfaction with the “disregard” of its members by the management and its representatives, also resolved that: “In the event that at the expiration of the 21-day ultimatum, management of UCTH fails to meet up with the demands of Congress, it will be left with no other option than to embark on a “Total and Indefinite Strike Action” without recourse to any further deliberations.”

It also resolved that the management should urgently ensure, “full payment of the July 2017 and 25% August salary shortfall arrears to the last set of House Officers and Registrars owed immediately.

“The current set of House Officers, Registrars and any other member being owed varying months of salary arrears, should be paid in accordance with the number of months owed immediately.

“Provides and ensures the presence of security personnel at the following areas of the hospital namely: the entrance/exit gates, the Accident and Emergency Department and the Laboratory Village. In addition, there should be improved lighting along the walk ways and aisles within the hospital complex to further improve security of lives and property. 7. That waste management/evacuation, the general hygiene and aesthetics of the hospital be accorded priority attention henceforth.”

The ARD called for the, “provision of uninterrupted power supply to the critical care areas of the hospital be accorded priority attention with no margin for excuses,” the payment of all financial liabilities owed members of the association including the 2013 IPPIS salary arrears; relativity arrears; skipping arrears; sponsorship and update arrears as well as the upgrade and step incremental arrears.

The entrance to the UCTH Pharmacy (file picture)

Also, the ARD called for the management to, “finally lay to rest and bring a permanent solution to the issue of call food provision for our members who provide call duty services within the hospital,” even as it expressed readiness to maintain, “industrial peace and harmony within UCTH Calabar in the believe that, management on its own part will live up to its responsibilities and make good on its promises to the ARD-UCTH.”

Meanwhile, the UCTH chapter of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientist of Nigeria (AMLSN), has inaugurated its new executives with a call to live above board and be professional in the discharge of their duties.

The new executives who will pilot the affairs of the association for the next three years include Messrs. Awuna Agbor as chairman; Eze Clifford as vice chairman; Ogar Osim as secretary; Gerald Ojong as assistant secretary; Joseph Onwugbioze as financial secretary; Ekpe Akapama as treasurer; Sylvester Umoh as welfare officer; Rowland Osim as public relations officer and Patrick O’Neil as auditor.

The new AMLSN-UCTH executives at their swearing in ceremony at the UCTH Senior Staff Club. 5/11/2018. Credit:CrossRiverWatch/Patricia Ilam

And, Awuna who spoke on behalf of his colleagues at the ceremony held at the UCTH Senor Staff Club on Monday, November 5th promised that the union under his leadership would prioritise members welfare as well as strive to uphold the tenets and ethics of the profession.

“We are here to serve you, we are here to run errands for you. We are here to carry out duties in our respective offices for the best of our welfare and for your being here. The new leadership of AMLSN is here to serve, and I want to assure you that we will do our best to give you the best representation at the level of management.

“All issues bordering on welfare of our job security and every other matter that may be concerning us as professionals and practitioners in UCTH will be prioritized by this government.

“We also want to assure the State leadership that AMSLN UCTH will always be in the fore front of promoting Laboratory practice in the state. We assure you of our cooperation and will be giving our best to make sure that ethical conducts is our top priority; and will practice within the ambience of the allowable law of the profession,” he said.

The inauguration came about two months after the association raised alarm over alleged ploy by the ARD to to take over their duties and responsibilities, thus making them “redundant.”

The laboratory scientists numbering about thirty had on September 11, 2018 protested what they described as “encroachment and deprivation of duties” by doctors in the hospital; adding that, “it is an act to promote quackery and corruption in the hospital.”

The then general secretary, Mr. Awuna Agbor had told CrossRiverWatch that: “We the members of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (MLSCN) are here to show our grievances on attempts by resident doctors of this hospital to push us out of our duties as medical laboratory scientists.

“Act No. 11 of 2003 which established the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria does not empower doctors to practice in the lab, it does not empower them to do laboratory testing, neither does it empower them to investigate patient report.

“Sad enough is that these people they are using are student doctors who are still on training, they are not even licensed to carry out this job, they have no mandate to handle routine patient sample, and there is no guarantee that they can get it right. If they want student doctors to use the laboratory, the research lab is there for resident’s doctors in training. All these act amounts to quackery and endangers the lives of citizens.”

He continued: “The discrepancy in result output in this hospital is clear evidence that they cannot handle this job, they don’t have capacity, their training is aloof, and this is not their job.

“I don’t know how some people reason, a doctor will want to be in charge of the theater, a doctor will want to do the duties of a nurse, a doctor wants to be in charge of security, and a doctor wants to be in charge of cutting of grass, it’s absurd. This profession is in specialties, you cannot do everything alone.

“We would do our job, let them do their job as doctors, they have their boundaries, and we have our own boundaries. We are medical laboratory scientists and we are trained in this capacity. It will be foolish to attempt to do the work of a doctor, we are not doctors and we were not trained as doctors.

“They are equally not trained as laboratory scientists, let them concentrate in their clinical services, and not for them to encroach into our own duties; let them do their job, and leave us to do our job.”

The AMLSN accused the doctors of trying to implant their people in the department, as a way of pushing them out of the job, in a bid to get kickbacks from the people they are planting in maintaining that the encroachment from the resident doctors in the hospital have rendered them useless and redundant, hence their demonstration.

Also, the association said effort to get the management to wade into the crisis had proved abortive, as they have kept mum over the issue but maintained that irrespective of the prevailing situation, they remain undaunted and will continue to discharge their duties in full as medical laboratory scientists.

CrossRiverWatch findings revealed that the “Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (Establishment) Act No. 11 of 2003” only permitted “professionals regulated and/or subject to the council in Nigeria are entitled to practice as Professional Medical Laboratory Scientists within the meaning and the intention of the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria Act No. 11 of 2003.”

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