Obey Court Order Or Risk Jail Term, Court Warns JUTH

The National Industrial Court (NIC) has ordered both federal and state government owned health facilities across the country to create a separate department and give free hand for medical laboratory scientists to practice their profession.

The court also in a separate ruling  in Abuja by Justice Nkechi Esewe,  gave the management of Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) 30 days to comply with the ruling or be sent to prison.

immediate past president of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria, Godswil Okara,
immediate past president of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria, Godswil Okara, speaking with newsmen after the ruling

In 2013,a  similar judgement  was given by the court for the Federal and state hospitals to implement’

This include that only professionals regulated and or subject to the Medical Laboratory Science Council Of Nigeria are entitled to practice as Medical Laboratory Scientists.

The court also  frowned at the situation where the medical laboratory scientists are not given a separate  department and are being headed by a medical doctor.

While delivering the first judgement in a case between Medical Laboratory Scientists and the management of JUTH, Justice Esewe, expressed disappointment at the non challant attitude of the hospital to court ruling.

Lawyer to the respondent,Victor Yatu said the judgement would be communicated to his client,but he however pointed  out the possibility of JUTH filing an appeal concerning the matter.

Holding brief for Bankole Falade ,Samson Ike observed that the Jos Teaching Hospital needed to do the needful

“The court warned that it would be forced to take the JUTH management to prison if at the expiration of the 30 days it failed to implement the pronouncement of the court.”he said.

In the second ruling which was in a case between the medical laboratory scientists and five other hospitals, Justice Esewe reiterated that the medical laboratory scientists should be allowed to discharged their duties freely as a distinct department without being directed by a medical doctor.

The hospitals who were respondents in this case include the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakalike; University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Ituku-Ozala; Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital Nnewi, National Othodepedic Hospita, Enugu and Parklin Hospital Enugu.

Speaking with journalists, the counsel to the five hospitals, Oguchukwu Nwogu, recalled that: “ In 2013, the court made several orders which border on the right of the applicant to the effect that they should be accorded their due respect as separate profession in the health sector of the federation but some hospitals looked at it with nonchalant attitude that it does not concern them.

“That is what prompted us to approach this court to interpret its judgment whether it affect indeed all the hospitals owned by the federal government.

The court has affirmed its position once more that that judgment of 2013 cuts across all the health sector and affects all the hospitals owned by the federal government of Nigeria.

“We will wait to see what the respondent in this matter will do. If they do not do what is expected of them, we will know the next step to take.”

On his part, the immediate past president of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria, Godswill Okara, reiterated that the pronouncement of the NIC is a vindication of the position of his group.

“ We have severally urged the federal ministry of health and the management of various teaching hospitals and Federal Medical Centres to obey the court and allow the rule of law and due process to prevail so that the health sector will serve the people for which it has been set up,” he said .

Okara, however, urged the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole,”to put his feet down and exercise the authority of the Federal Ministry of Health to call all these hospitals to order to ensure that the judgment of the court is implemented and enforced to the latter.”

While responding to a question on whether the judgement is only applicable to federal health facilities, Okara said: “No. Parklin Hospital is owned by Enugu State Government and is part of the hospitals in this suit.

“The judgement has clearly and unambiguously mentioned that they are bound by the laws of Nigeria. We don’t have different laws. Professional law is on the exclusive list. No state Assembly is allowed to enact professional laws.
“To that extent, the judgement affects all states ministries of health, all federal government hospitals, whether they are teaching, medical centres, or research oriented. This is the position of the law.”

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