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DOCTORS: NMA, MDCN squabble over shunning patients during strikes

DOCTORS: NMA, MDCN squabble over shunning patients during strikes

Doctors under the umbrella of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) on Monday said they will pay no attention to a directive by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) warning practitioners against strike actions.

The NMA also threatened to withdraw its services across health institutions in the country if the federal government fails to implement the upward review of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure by January 31, 2024.

The PUNCH reported that NMA’s president, Uche Ojinmah, was responding to a directive by the MDCN warning doctors against shutting down healthcare services during strike actions.

The MDCN, the statutory body for the regulation, control, and discipline of medical practitioners and dental surgeons, had in a letter dated January 4, 2024, warned doctors not to send out patients when embarking on industrial actions.

The letter titled, “Conduct of Registered Medical Practitioners and Dental Surgeons in Hospitals during Strikes” was addressed to the Committee of Chief Medical Directors and Medical Directors of Teaching Hospitals, Federal Medical Centres, and Specialised Hospitals and signed by the MDCN Registrar, Dr Tajudeen Sanusi.

The Punch reported that the letter asked doctors not to discharge patients on admission merely because of a strike action.

The MDCN added that accidents and other emergency paediatrics units must remain open and manned by practitioners who had been scheduled on roasters based on the provisions of the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act Cap M8 LFN 2004.

The letter read, “The prevalent practice where hospital patients are precipitously discharged from or denied access to wards, emergency units, labour rooms, etc on account of strike actions is not acceptable.

“While conceding that registered practitioners are entitled to demand and obtain their rights under the labour laws of Nigeria, the council frowns at conduct that endangers the health-seeking public and could bring disrepute to the medical and dental professions.

“Pursuant to the above, we wish to call the attention of the Chief Medical Directors, Medical Directors, and heads of healthcare institutions who are registered practitioners, to the provisions of the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act Cap M8 LFN 2004, in sections1 (2c), 15(3a), 16(2) and Rules 45 and 50 of the Code of Medical Ethics in Nigeria 2008 Edition, the import of which are:

“Patients on admission should not be discharged merely on account of strike action: Accidents and Emergency, Emergency Paediatrics Unit, Labour Ward/Room, Neonatal Care Unit, Intensive Care Unit, and other points in the hospital for providing emergency and critical care must remain open and manned by practitioners who had been scheduled on roasters to man them.

“Patients who had been given appointments before the strike must be attended to.”

NMA reacts

But reacting, Ojinmah said, “First, let me make it clear that nobody will tell doctors how to defend themselves unless they have taken over the responsibility of defending Nigerian doctors.

“How will MDCN tell me not to fight for my salary? They didn’t even issue a letter to demand equal pay with senators or judges or what is being paid in America.

 

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