Lagos decries doctors’ warning strike as insensitive

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Lagos State Government on Monday urged the Medical Guild to return to work.

It expressed displeasure with a three-day warning strike called by the Guild which started on Monday.

Commissioner for Information & Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, said in a statement: “It is pertinent to note that the state government expresses extreme disappointment that the Guild continued with their warning strike despite a series of engagements aimed at resolving some of the grievances raised.”

The state noted that many issues had been resolved, whilst unresolved ones were still being deliberated upon.

“It is worrisome that some members of this noble profession would down tool at a time when their services are mostly required.

“We believe this action is insensitive and lacks empathy which the medical profession epitomises.

“The state government, therefore, requests the members of the Medical Guild who embarked on a three-day warning strike today to return to work,” Omotoso said.

The commissioner said Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had been supportive of health workers, mindful of the extreme sacrifices that healthcare professionals are demonstrating in the COVID-19 response.

“We are currently rotating our health workers who are engaged in providing care at the isolation facilities. They are not being dismissed; this is wrong information.

“Healthcare professionals are returning to their primary posting for the following reasons: to reduce fatigue and burn out amongst health workers; to build capacity for treatment of COVID19 across the health workforce and to ensure that as many health workers as possible benefit from the additional allowances,” the state said.

On non-payment of COVID19 allowances for May and June, the state said it paid extra-special allowances for frontline workers who are involved directly with the Lagos State COVID-19 response.

“This was put in place before any other state in the nation with payments as high as N672,000 per month, in addition to their normal remuneration packages for each cadre and which represents financial incentives over and above that paid by the Federal counterparts.

“Where discrepancies exist between Federal and State allowances, Lagos State has paid the difference to ensure parity. Payments for March and April were made on time.

“However, to ensure uniformity and accuracy of the allowances, due diligence measures had to be put in place before the subsequent month’s payments were approved.

“As we speak, these payments have been approved and being received by the workforce.

“Additionally, all healthcare professionals receive a hazard allowance which has been temporarily increased by 400 per cent at the discretion of Mr Governor periodically during this period,” Omotoso said.

Lagos said the disparity in salary for doctors was because of the Skipping Policy adopted by some Federal institutions.

On heavy taxation of health workers, the state explained that the Personal Income Tax Act is standard to all and calculated based on the tax table.

The state said a day each week, has been set aside exclusively for testing of healthcare professionals; that all house officers have been paid April increment in hazard allowance; and that all the insured frontline health workers are accommodated in hotels and fed at great cost since the pandemic onset.

Omotoso said the governor has approved for Health Service Commission to employ over 760 health workers of which at least 400 are doctors.

He said work has commenced to ensure Doctor’s Quarters are built in LASUTH and across all State Secondary Healthcare Facilities.

“The state government will continue to play its part in ensuring the battle over COVID is won.

“It urges the guild to continue to take full advantage of the dispute resolution processes provided by the state to resolve all issues, bearing in mind that these are unusual times for the nation and the entire world.

“The government, therefore, wishes to assure citizens that while the negotiation is ongoing, services at all state-owned health facilities can still be accessed.”

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