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NMA faults MDCN directive stopping doctors from shunning patients during strike

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has openly defied a directive from the Medical Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) regarding strike actions.

The association’s President, Uche Ojinmah, in an exclusive interview with The PUNCH on Monday, responded to the MDCN’s warning against halting healthcare services during strikes, stating that the NMA will disregard this directive.JAMB Portal

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The NMA has further escalated the situation by threatening to cease its services in health institutions nationwide if the Federal Government fails to implement the revised Consolidated Medical Salary Structure by January 31, 2024. This move intensifies the ongoing dispute over medical practitioners’ remuneration and working conditions.

The MDCN, the regulatory body responsible for overseeing medical practitioners and dental surgeons, had previously issued a stern warning in a letter dated January 4, 2024. This letter, titled ‘Conduct of Registered Medical Practitioners and Dental Surgeons in Hospitals during Strikes’ and signed by MDCN Registrar Dr. Tajudeen Sanusi, was addressed to the Committee of Chief Medical Directors and Medical Directors of Teaching Hospitals, Federal Medical Centres, and Specialised Hospitals. The MDCN’s letter, which was exclusively obtained, clearly stipulates that patients should not be discharged solely due to a strike and that emergency services, including accident and paediatrics units, must remain operational with scheduled practitioners, as per the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act Cap M8 LFN 2004.InformationGuideNigeria

This standoff between the NMA and the MDCN underscores the growing tension within the medical community in Nigeria, as doctors demand better working conditions and pay, while regulatory bodies emphasize the need to maintain uninterrupted healthcare services.

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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.JAMB Result

“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:NYSC Portal

“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.

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

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.

“MDCN is regulating medical practice, are they saying that the doctors should go hungry? or that a doctor should come to work without eating? The personnel they want at the emergency unit have not been paid salaries and you want a hungry man to run emergency services?”

He said doctors will do everything to defend themselves.

“Our doctors will do everything to defend themselves. MDCN is aware that there was an increment in our basic salaries since July 2023 and it hasn’t been implemented six months down the line without any reason. And if I decide to go on industrial action, someone will show me a document.

“If the council doesn’t want any disruption, they should write the current administration to pay what they promised which is not even enough,” he added.

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Emediong Silver

Emediong Ekpe is a graduate of English. A professional Sports journalist/analyst, and a spoken word artist. He is passionate about decimating information and putting smiles on people's faces via news writing. Whatapp: 08088735884

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