The National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) has described the ongoing nationwide strike by members of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) as selfish, unethical and illegal, reports the Lagos-based Daily Independent newspaper. NANNM also alleged that the strike was a well calculated and orchestrated plan by the doctors to divert patients to their private clinics to milk them of their hard earned resources. NANNM stated this in a statement by its General Secretary, Yusuf- Badmus, in Abuja on Sunday.
The group advised the Federal Government to "stop all government employed doctors from establishing private clinics for the benefit of the citizens of this nation while still in government employment".
According to the nurses, "They should be called to order because their incessant strike is a gimmick to further divert innocent patients to their private clinics where they (doctors) stand to benefit." "The government should have a rethink on the undue attention they give them and do what is right." "The government should revert to the era when administrators administered the hospitals/health facilities while health professionals, including doctors do their professional duties that they are being paid for."
The group further advocated that all government health workers should have unified salary scales. "Difference should be entry/exit points and professional/peculiar allowances of the different cadres of workers. "This will go a long way in checking and preventing unhealthy rivalry and end to the incessant strike action, that leaves the innocent patient to suffer."
The nurses, therefore, encouraged patients to attend and patronise the hospitals despite the current strike. This, according to them, is because "other health professionals such as skilled midwives, the accident and emergency (A & E) nurses, intensive care nurses, orthopaedic nurses paediatric nurses, including the medical laboratory scientists, medical record officers, the radiographers, the physiotherapists and pharmacists, are on ground to attend to their health needs, even when the medical practitioners embark on their selfish and illegal strike; selfish in the sense that they are using the strike to force the Federal Government to stop the implementation of agreements and memorandum of understanding reached between JOHESU/APHA and Federal Government spanning between 2009 to date".
The nurses again condemned what they described as "the unethical behaviour or practice of medical practitioners whereby in-patients are compulsorily discharged against their wish whenever NMA calls for industrial action." "NMA does this to make it appear to the public and the press that the patients left the hospital because doctors are on strike. "The public at large must be made to know that most in-patients are in the hospital for comprehensive healthcare (physical and psychological) and are being taken care of by the nurses and other health professionals, except those that have been booked for surgical procedures or surgical operation. "The medical practitioner, therefore, has no moral or ethical justification to compulsorily force them (in-patients) out of the hospital to make the hospital empty because doctors are on strike," NANNM insisted.
But while the nurses were tongue-lashing the doctors, the Nigeria Governors' Forum (NGF) under the leadership of Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State called on the NMA to end its current strike for the sake of the lives the doctors have sworn to save.
In a statement released in Abuja at the weekend by Secretary of the Forum, Osaro Onaiwu, Jang begged the leadership of the NMA to remember their Hippocratic oath "as the strike is devastating the lives of the poor in our nation who can only afford medical care in government owned medical facilities".
The statement reminded the striking doctors that their friends and families are not immune from the effects of the strike, as anybody can fall ill or be involved in an emergency at anytime and anywhere in the country. The statement then called on the doctors to end the strike on humanitarian grounds and engage in honest dialogue with the Federal Government to stop the pain and suffering being inflicted on Nigerians by their action.