Following the planned Lagos state nurses strike, the nurses, under the umbrella of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), on Friday, declined talking with the representatives of the State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; and therefore, staged a walkout from the scheduled meeting.
The nurses, led by the Association’s chairman, Olurotimi Awojide, and the secretary, Toba Odumosu, said, they disagree with the composition of the government’s representatives, and that was why they walked out.
While insisting that they were only ready to meet with Governor Sanwo-Olu, the nurses representatives, upheld that, they had to walk out of the meeting because the invitation they received was to meet the Governor and not his representatives; adding that, they “had met those same officials several times in the past, without resolutions.”
The nurses submitted that, it is important they hear from the horse’s mouth for a lasting solution to their outcry.
However, on their way out of the Marina home of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Saturday, the proposed venue for the meeting, which had some of the state’s cabinet members in attendance, the aggrieved nurses met with the Governor who apologized to them, and promised to hold a meeting with them on Sunday by 5p.m.
Confirming the incident, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Gboyega Akosile, who on Sunday said, he was aware that the meeting could not hold as expected, but failed to confirm if the proposed Sunday meeting will hold. He nevertheless, promised to revert to pressmen, as matters concerning the situation unfold.
The nurses had on Friday, during a congress held at their secretariat at the Agidingbi – Ikeja, area of Lagos state, had declared a three-day warning strike, beginning from Monday, January 10, to Wednesday, January 12, 2022, to state their grievances on “acute shortage of nurses and midwives, retention incentives to arrest the turnover rate, proper consolidation of CONHESS salary structure, and improved working conditions for all its members.”
The Union’s secretary, Toba Odumosu, attested:
“The increased foreign labour migration of nurses is no longer news. Understandably this has led to an acute shortage in the staffing of health facilities.
“According to our records, more than 496 nurses, left the service of the Lagos State Health Service Commission alone, between 2019 to 2021, and with less than 15 per cent due to statutory retirement.
“For context, the commission has only about 2,350 nurses. Over 200 nurses left the service of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital within the same period. Over 80 left the primary healthcare board within the last two years, which has only about 700 nurses and midwives.
“It is clear that nurses do not find job satisfaction or fulfillment here. Nurses are quitting within weeks of taking appointments. And this mass exodus continues to further overburden and overstress the nurses still within the service.
“The government has a replacement-on-exit policy in place, which has been rendered ineffective by the inability to easily find replacements.
“Nurses are critical assets. Out of the 500 vacancies approved for recruitment by the governor for the Health Service Commission recently, less than 300 applied. This is in a country with a 33.2 per cent unemployment rate. It is certain far much less would actually take the job. LASUTH experienced the same fate in its own recruitment effort and it would be the same for the Primary Healthcare Board when it starts its recruitment.
“The inherent danger is that while the government is finding it difficult to fill entry-level positions, more senior nurses are also leaving the service. A replacement-on-exit policy does not cater to the deficiency of experienced hands that result from this mass exodus. The effect on the quality of care can easily be inferred.”