By Gboyega Akinsanmi
The Lagos State Government Saturday defended again its decision to sack doctors on its payroll who went on strike without serving due notice.
The state’s Head of Service, Mr. Adesegun Ogunlewe, said in a statement, that the government had to sack the doctors and employ replacements to protect patients that the doctors had abandoned during their strike.
He also urged the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) to stop spreading falsehood that the sacking of the doctors was a ploy to “decimate” the medical profession.
According to him, no responsible administration will continue to watch its citizens die in the hospitals after the doctors had abandoned them for a strike.
He said although the doctors had the right to go on strike, they also had a duty to serve statutorily stipulated notice on the government to enable it to make preparations for emergency situations and properly monitor patients on admission.
“The decision by the doctors under the Medical Guild to abandon the hospitals without the notice stipulated by law caught government by surprise and led to many deaths. No responsible government will tolerate that,” Ogunlewe said.
He said if it were in another clime, the doctors would have had to deal with criminal law suits from patients whom they abandoned.
He added that it amounted to cheap blackmail and begging the question for the NMA to accuse the state of attempting to decimate the medical profession when the government had invested heavily in human personnel and physical infrastructure in the health sector.
He said the sacking of the doctors had to do with the need to protect the public service and ensure that illegalities do not reign in the state.
He said with the doctors abandoning their duty posts, the government had no choice than to hire replacements to halt the deaths and suffering of patients in public hospitals.
Reacting to the allegation that the governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, walked out of a meeting to resolve the industrial crisis, Ogunlewe who was also at the meeting, noted that the governor was at the meeting for over two hours at the expense of other scheduled state assignments.
According to him, the governor had to go late to another function in Lagos involving his Edo State counterpart and he also had to keep a delegation from the federal government which had earlier inspected the on-going clearance of the Apapa ports areas waiting.
He said the real grouse of the doctors was Fashola’s refusal to overrule their employers, the Health Services Commission.
“The governor told the doctors that it would amount to a breach of procedure to overrule the Health Services Commission and the Lagos University Teaching Hospital Board by executive fiat,” Ogunlewe stated.
“If we are talking about the need to build and respect institutions, then it’s wrong to expect the governor to just overrule an institution like that.
“There is an established procedure through which these erring doctors were recruited, queried and sanctioned. The same established procedure has a process for appeals and the best path to a resolution of the situation is for the sacked doctors to seek recourse to the procedure rather than resort to cheap blackmail or outright misinformation.
“No amount of name calling or threats will distract the state government from its objective of restoring normalcy to the health sector as a soon as possible,” Ogunlewe stated.
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