Doctors’ Strike Begins, NARD Meets National Assembly Over Unpaid Allowances

The leadership of the National Association of Resident Doctors on Wednesday met with the Joint Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Health behind closed doors to discuss the impending strike by the health workers.

This is just as the strike called by NARD commences today.

Officials of the Federal Ministry of Health, Finance, Budget Office and the National Association of Medical and Dental Council also attended the meeting.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe, told our correspondent that both sides resolved most of the issues that led to the strike threat.

Oloriegbe said the resident doctors had also pledged to brief their members about the outcome of their resolution with the lawmakers.

He said, “Yes, we met and we resolved most of the issues. The NARD promised to go back to brief their members with our resolution and understanding of calling off the strike.”

Oloriegbe, who also briefed journalists after the marathon session, said various committees had been set up to resolve all issues concerning the doctors.

He said, “Of course there are a lot of demands that are contained in the communiqué issued by the NARD, but we have looked at the key ones that concern members of the NARD.

“We have resolved them and all other ones that we didn’t go into details, we have agreed that further discussion will go on between the NARD and other relevant agencies of government, particular the Ministries of Labour, Health and Finance.

“This is because some of them are medium to long term issues in terms of occurrence. The first one, which is the major one, is the issue of the house officers’ payment.

“They said they have started payment and all hospitals have submitted and we have agreed to pay for all those omissions even above as it was in December, but further verification will be done and anybody that is paid irregularly will be made to refund and sanctioned.

“We have set up a committee comprising NARD, Federal Ministries of Health, Finance and MDCN, to further look into it in terms of the immediate and long term.

“This is to ensure that we bring the figure to what is closer to what is obtainable in other climes. The budget office has promised to support in that regard. We also agreed to look into the cases of doctors who are residents in Federal hospitals and whose salaries have not been paid.

“Having gone thus far, there is no need to say we want to proceed with the strike because we cannot put the blame of all what is happening on one person.” The leadership of the NARD did not grant press interview after the meeting.

The Federal Government also held a closed-door meeting with members of union.Before the session, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige, said the Federal Government and the resident doctors were working closely with regards to the demands of the doctors.

PUNCH

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