The National Association of Resident Doctors on Tuesday said house officers are bonafide members of the association and have the right to join the ongoing strike initiated by the association.
The NARD was responding to the threat issued by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria on Monday that house officers who embark on strike will suffer a reposting with no remuneration.
However, the NARD while condemning the threat by the MDCN reiterated its determination to reposition the health sector.
According to the association, the Registrar of MDCN, Dr. Tajudeen Sanusi has turned himself into an obstacle for the health sector, noting that fresh doctors are facing hardship under his watch in the process of getting their permanent licence.
Recall that NARD had on Saturday issued a communiqué after its Annual General Meeting of the association’s National Executive Council announced that members would commence an indefinite strike, beginning from August 1.
Some of the issues raised include the inconsistent payment of salaries, hazard allowances, non-payment of death benefits, and issues surrounding the registration of members on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.
The strike was also to demand the immediate withdrawal of the circular removing House Officers from the scheme of service and the hasty implementation of the circular by the Lagos state government.
The Registrar of the MDCN had, however, in a statement titled “Press release on professional ethics for house officers,” noted that house officers who join the ongoing strike should be reported immediately to the Chief Medical Director, Medical Director, or Medical Superintendent of the housemanship of the institution.
The statement reads in part, “The attention of the council has been drawn to the news of the industrial strike announced by the National Association of Resident Doctors and it is in the light of this that council is constrained to issue this public notice as guidance to practitioners and the general public.
“Medical and dental practitioners on the provisional register who are employed as house officers, heads of health institutions where housemanship training for medical or dental graduates are conducted and the general public should note the provisions of the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act in Sections 1(2c), 8, 11, 12, the Rules and Guidelines that flow therefrom including the Code of Medical Ethics in Nigeria (2008 Ed) and Guidelines on Registration.
“Provisional registration is for the purpose of enabling young doctors to undertake housemanship training in approved hospitals under the supervision of registered specialists.
“Provisional registration lapses after two years or immediately a doctor is signed off from housemanship. Generally, it is expected that on employment, house officers should complete their postings within 12 calendar months.
“During the housemanship, doctors and dentists are required to undertake 12 weeks’ uninterrupted postings in each of Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and Paediatrics and other relevant specialties for dentistry.
“Any interruption for any reason, including embarking on strike actions, during any of the postings, will not be condoned and should be reported immediately to the Chief Medical Director, Medical Director, or Medical Superintendent of the housemanship of the institution.
“Section 2d paragraph (iii) of Guidelines on Registration (2003 ed.) prescribes that ‘A supervising doctor who fails in his duties in this regard is liable to proceedings being commenced against him at the Disciplinary Organs of Council if his misdeed in the matter is brought to the notice of Council.’
“Embarking on strike actions by house officers will lead to repeat of the posting(s) afresh without remuneration. House officers are therefore advised to avoid participation in activities like industrial actions that could lead to interruption in their postings.”
Meanwhile, in an interview with PUNCH HealthWise, Chairman, NARD’s Communication/Communique, Dr. Julian Ojebo said the association resumed its suspended strike because of the unwillingness and failure of appointees of the government to carry out their responsibilities months after signing the Memorandum of Action.
“Top of the ladder of this ineptitude and slothfulness is the Registrar of the MDCN who lacks requisite knowledge of current day practices of standardisation, use of technology and his failure of understanding that any family that kills her young is doom for extinction.
“Little wonder as to why the Council cannot tell Nigerians the total number of doctors in Nigeria as seen in saner climes on her website.”
Ojebo, who is also the immediate past First Vice President of NARD added that “The MDCN’s only job since the appointment of T.A.B. Sanusi is exploiting doctors.
“Whilst NARD is focused on repositioning the health sector, the point man of the MDCN has turned himself into an obstacle as seen in the hardship fresh doctors faced in the process of getting their permanent licence.
“As we speak, some of our younger colleagues (house officers) are still being owned salaries ranging from one to three months.
“A Click into the portal of MDCN shows how unproductive the leadership of the MDCN has been.
“We would advise the MDCN arrowhead to focus on improving the visibility of the MDCN, use technology in solving present-day issues rather than decide who the members of NARD are, a professional body that he probably benefitted from when he was a young doctor.
“For the purpose and intent of productive leadership, we shall advise the MDCN to stick to the Act that governs it rather than chasing shadows and embracing frivolities.
“A house officer is a bonafide member of NARD and NARD is fully responsible for their social, mental, and financial welfare, for we understand that a doctor whose social, financial, and mental welfare is threatened is not a safe doctor”.
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