University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH)

The Chief Medical Director (CMD), University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Prof. Thomas Agan, has described as ‘unnecessary’ the strike action embarked upon by resident doctors in the hospital.

Speaking to journalists on Wednesday in Calabar, Agan said that the industrial action was unnecessary as he had made frantic efforts to pay the doctors their money.

The resident doctors of the hospital commenced an indefinite strike on Tuesday over the non-payment of the 2014 to 2016 skipping arrears.

Agan attributed the delay of the payment to technical issues on the payment platform, adding that he had written several letters to the Federal Ministry of Health on the matter.

He added that he had visited the ministry in Abuja where he was told that the money would be paid immediately the Accountant-General of the Federation endorsed the document.

‘‘I have been in the forefront of the negotiations of these skipping arrears.

‘‘We in this hospital were one of the first institutions to implement skipping for doctors; everyone was peaceful until recently when the 2014 to 2016 skipping arrears came up.

‘‘By December 2018, the National Association of Resident Doctors told me that N100 million has been injected into our personnel allocation to ensure that we start paying the skipping arrears.

‘‘That money came late in December.

‘‘In the process of us trying to ensure that we pay salaries and other deductions, it stretched into Jan. 1, 2019 and the entire money on the given platform wiped off; it is something that happens regularly.

‘‘I quickly called the office of the Accountant-General and told them what we were experiencing, but they said it was a general network problem and would be rectified.

‘‘Part of the money was this N100 million for the skipping arrears.

‘‘We have written over and over again to the Federal Government reminding them that the money has not been released,’’ he explained.

Agan said he was in Abuja recently, in the office of the Accountant-General, who was not on ground to endorse the document, assuring that once it was endorsed, the money would be released.

‘‘I have explained all these to the resident doctors with evidence of all the appeals to the government but they insisted on going on strike.

‘‘They are going on strike without thinking of the economic implications; the lives that would be lost even though we all took the medical oath to protect the lives of humans from conception to death,’’ he said.