The Lagos State Government has debunked plans to sack striking resident doctors at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja.
The Commissioner for Establishment, Training, and Pensions, Mrs. Ajibola Ponnle, made this known in an interview on Sunday.
The commissioner stated that the state government was also recruiting more health workers to fill areas of manpower shortages in the state hospitals.
It was gathered that there had been speculations that the recruitment would ultimately lead to the sacking of the doctors.
But, the commissioner, while reacting to the speculations, said the Lagos State Government “is not considering sacking the striking resident doctors”.
Ponnle added that “the health sector has received considerable attention from Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration and the shortage of manpower was one of the challenges the governor has been addressing from last year with the recruitment of 350 healthcare professionals into the service through the Health Service Commission and LASUTH.
“He has also approved another round of recruitment, which has started with the commencement of the employment of 400 healthcare professionals. These will include at least 150 doctors, which is the current deficit identified,” the commissioner said.
While speaking on the issue of the circular from the Head of Service directing the removal of house officers and National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) doctors from the scheme of service, Ponle said the decision to implement the directive in Lagos State was for equity and justice.
The commissioner stated, “The National Council on Establishments, which is a body comprising the Head of Service of the Federation, all Heads of Service and the Permanent Secretaries of Establishments of the 36 states, at its 42nd national meeting resolved to remove the current status of internship programmes; in this case horsemanship and NYSC doctors, as posts attracting grade levels in the scheme of service.”
She added that the circular was issued by the Head of Service of the Federation in April and by the Head of Service of Lagos State on July 12, 2021.
The commissioner further stated that since both horsemanship and NYSC placements were done prior to their entry into the public service, it was necessary to correct the anomaly of having them included in the first place, which was what the NCE resolved to do.
Ponnle, therefore, said the state government was working to meet the demands of the striking resident doctors, saying, “All the issues raised by the LASUTH ARD and the medical guild have been given due attention and are at various stages of implementation.”
According to her, “One of such demands by the ARD is the domestication of the Medical Residency Training Act, which by the provisions state that 80 percent of the training fees is to be provided through the national budgetary allocation to residency training institutions and 20 percent by the state institutions in which they are being trained.
“In spite of the provision of the Act, the governor saw this as an area where the state should intervene and approved the payment of 100 percent to resident doctors. In addition to this, during the peak of the COVID pandemic last year, the hazard allowance was increased by 300 percent.”
Speaking on the latest development, the LASUTH ARD President, Dr. Azeez Ojekunle, said the association had yet to receive a positive response to its demands from the state government.