Resident doctors in federal health facilities were not sacked, but their training programme only suspended, Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, has said.
He frowned at what he called the change in vocabulary from
‘suspension’ to ‘sack’, saying it might likely send the wrong signals, the
Minister added that the doctors had not contributed to the fight to
contain ebola despite the fact that it is a national emergency.
The government had last week Friday announced the suspension of the
residency programme as well as resident doctors in the country.
The Minister told State House correspondents, at the end of the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan, that the allotted time within which the resident doctors were supposed to be acquiring the needed skills was being wasted, hence government’s decision to reappraise the programme.
Chukwu added that the suspension of the doctors may last for months,
until the committee which is about to be set up submits its report for the way forward.
According to him “They were not sacked; it is a matter of interpretation. For example, can someone while still working actively, die, or whether that person resigned or was dismissed or retired or terminated all mean different things in the public service. But the end point is that the person is no longer working.
“I want us to put things in perspective. Government did not sack
anybody, it is true that they themselves have not been working for
almost two months, except those in private hospitals. Resident doctors
in both federal and state hospitals have not been working for almost two
months now and they have not participated in the control of this Ebola
virus disease, they have not played any role. So even if government had
not taken any decision, they are not there, they are not working and I
don’t know why suddenly the media starts taking interest in them. They
are not part of this success story.
“But what happened is like in the aviation industry where when you buy a
ticket and you fail to show up they say no show and they even penalize
you. So there is no show of the resident doctors and even government is
still paying them. People who are unemployed even some doctors will be
asking government a question, is it because we did not have an
appointment letter? What is the difference, you are paying people who
are not working, we too are not working, why are you not paying us.
“Sometimes we need to think deeply about what we do to ourselves.
Government says why can’t we use this period to appraise properly the
residency programme and come up with something that can help the
country. Training of a doctor must be done properly. They have an
allotted time to acquire skills. Anybody can pass the theoretical exams
but has he acquired the skills?
“We need to be honest with ourselves. If you suspend any course do you
keep students redundant? You give them opportunity if they feel you are
wasting their time they can apply for other courses”.
Chukwu added that government’s decision only affects resident doctors in
federal hospitals and it is not a permanent thing.
“I believe we will quickly appraise this situation and hopefully
government will resume residency programme because honestly we need to
train doctors in the specialist”.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Health, Khaliru Alhassan, said he
briefed the council on the progress being made to completely eradicate
polio from the country.
He said so far, there were only six cases of polio in the country.
He gave the affected states to include Kano and Yobe.
“The council was happy about progress made. We have the belief that sooner
than expected, polio will be eradicated in the country,” he said.