The Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) has directed all the Chief Medical Directors (CMDs) and Medical Directors (MDs) of teaching hospitals, Federal Medical Centres (FMCs), and specialised hospitals across the country to immediately enforce the rules banning registered medical practitioners and dental surgeons in hospitals from discharging patients on admission during strikes.
Registrar, MDCN, Dr. Tajudeen Sanusi, who gave the directive in a letter dated January 4, 2024, and addressed to the Committee of CMDs and MDs of teaching hospitals, FMCs, and specialised hospitals, noted that the new rule is based on the recent penchant of registered practitioners to engage in industrial action including strikes to enforce their labour rights.
The letter titled, ‘Conduct of Registered Medical Practitioners and Dental Surgeons in Hospitals during Strikes’, stated that the abysmal conduct of shutting down the health sector has brought disrepute to the medical professions and will no longer be acceptable.
It added that patients on admission must not be discharged merely because of a strike action while the accidents and other emergency paediatrics units must remain open and manned by practitioners who had been scheduled on roasters based on the provisions of the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act Cap M8 LFN 2004
“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.
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 sections 1 (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 that 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. Patients who had been given appointments before the strike must be attended to,” it read.
The registrar further warned that administrative practitioners will be held responsible and severely dealt with in case of any violation.
“The registered practitioners in administrative charge of hospitals as Chief Medical Directors, Medical Directors or by whatever designation, shall be held responsible for violation of these regulations by registered practitioners deployed in the hospitals they are in charge of.
“You are requested to bring this correspondence to the attention of all registered medical and dental practitioners who are your employees including the residents,” the letter added