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Bayelsa government wades into resident doctors’ strike

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Activities are picking up at Bayelsa State-owned Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital (NDUTH), Okolobiri, as the state government has taken steps to end the indefinite strike by resident doctors.

NDUTH hosts a major isolation centre for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients in the state.The doctors had on Monday said they were yet to resume from the strike called off on Sunday by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) over several issues with the health sector. President of NARD, NDUTH chapter, Dr. Olu Inestol, said that members of the association were still on strike.

“We cannot resume work yet like our counterparts in Federal Government establishments who are being paid the promised hazard allowances, but the same cannot be said for us at the state level.

“As we speak, nothing has been done about our own at NDUTH and that is why we cannot return to work. The strike therefore continues,” Inestol said on Monday.
However, following meetings with the state government yesterday, Dr. Inetsol said the Bayelsa government was in talks with the doctors to resolve the labour dispute.

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With the understanding shown by the government in the negotiations, he noted, the resident doctors deployed to the isolation centre started rendering services.

“The Bayelsa deputy governor (Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo) and the speaker of the House of Assembly (Abraham Ingobere) led the government team that met with us on Monday and we are making progress with the negotiations.

“Our grievances are beyond hazard allowances and conditions of service, but stretch into the general health sector. But we are hopeful of a resolution from the ongoing dialogue,” Inetsol said.

NARD had on Sunday directed its members across the country to return to work, as the Federal Government said it had cleared outstanding hazard allowances among others.

NDUTH hosts the 100-bed capacity COVID-19 isolation centre located at the outskirts of Yenagoa. The rising spread of cases to 177, with 137 active cases, 29 recoveries and 11 deaths in Bayelsa has raised concerns of an impending crisis in the coming days.

However, normalcy is gradually returning to the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Yenagoa, as many patients are receiving medial attention. Chairman of NARD in the hospital, Dr. Ebidimie-Divine Irole, said that work was gradually returning to normal pace, as the doctors have returned to work as directed by the national leadership of the association.

“We have all resumed work and you can see that patients are gradually returning to the hospital and are receiving services.

“We are optimistic that the Federal Government would reciprocate the gesture and offset the hazard allowances as earlier pledged,” Irole said.

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