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24.04.2024 Featured Overburdened, Yet Underpaid… House Officer at LAUTECH Teaching Hospital Regrets Getting Hired

Published 24th Apr, 2024

By Olayide Soaga

House officers at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) Teaching Hospital have decried the unfavourable working conditions in the hospital and denied bonuses.

Daniel (not real name), one of the affected officers, who has spent a few months working for the hospital, told FIJ he regrets getting hired.

“Coming here for housemanship has to be the worst decision of my life,” he said.

FIJ learned that the hospital has a shortage of house officers, leaving the available ones burned out from working longer shifts than they should.

House officers are doctors or surgeons who receive further training upon graduation from an accredited medical school while caring for and treating patients under the supervision of other senior colleagues in a hospital.

In hospitals like LAUTECH Teaching Hospital, the number of employed house officers should not be less than 40, according to some of the doctors, but FIJ has learned that the house officers in the hospital are far below the benchmark.

Daniel told FIJ that 11 house officers are currently working at the hospital.

READ ALSO: University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital Yet to Pay Interns Hazard Allowances for 2022

“When we came in, we realised the number of house officers was low and were told they were recruiting more people. We submitted applications for some of our friends with whom we graduated, but they were never called or interviewed despite having more slots to fill,” he told FIJ.

“We recently realised the quota was 48, but we have always been told the hospital can only take 24 house officers.”

He added that the hospital had 16 house officers before he assumed work in September alongside five others but some of those they met were already rounding up their one-year programme at the time.

“In my third month there, more people had already completed their programme, leaving more workload for us who remained, and we could barely cover the work,” he added.

With a vast workload, the 11 house officers left now have to work more hours than they should. Daniel told FIJ they had to work 36 hours out of every 48 hours for three months at a stretch, which affected his personal life.

“Anyone who has to cover weekend shifts works from 8 am on Saturday till 4 pm on Monday. That is 56 hours of work non-stop. This same person gets to rest till 8 am on Tuesday and works till 4 pm on Wednesday, another 32 hours of work, and the cycle continues.

“I could barely talk to my friends or parents or do other things I did for fun. I love my job and hate showing up looking dull, but I am sincerely burned out. I ought to register and sit for some exams, but there is no point paying for an exam that I won’t have time to adequately prepare for.”

READ ALSO: Trigger-Happy Oyo Policeman Kills 2 Brothers Celebrating LAUTECH Graduation

MEAGRE WAGES AND WITHDRAWN BONUSES

According to Daniel, remuneration for house officers was around N200,000 a few years ago but is now between N170,000 and N175,000 because the N30,000 hazard allowance has been withdrawn.

FIJ learned that health workers in Oyo State embarked on a warning strike in March to demand the implementation of the new national hazard allowance for health professionals in the state.

In November 2023, Seyi Makinde, the Governor of Oyo State, announced that workers in the state would receive N25,000 wage awards for six months, but house officers were left out.

“We have been sidelined for every bonus. We were told we were not part of the N25,000 wage award the governor approved for the state’s workers, and we never got it,” said Daniel.

He added that the hospital welcomed two new house officers the previous week but they resigned after spending a week and learning about the unfavourable conditions they were to work under and the poor remuneration when compared to other hospitals.

READ ALSO: ‘Pay Us Our Arrears’ — FMC Interns Protest 11 Months of Unpaid Hazard Allowance

“We are being overworked in one of the teaching hospitals where house officers are least paid in Nigeria and still missing out on every bonus,” he said.

MANAGEMENT TURNS DEAF EARS

Daniel told FIJ that the hospital’s management had turned deaf ears to their plights and pleas to employ more doctors.

“Our cries to the management to employ more people have been met with deaf ears. We have lost faith in the system. We are still here because we are already too deep in to go and start afresh elsewhere. Everyone is counting down to their last day here,” he said.

He also told FIJ that one of his colleagues who went on sick leave was threatened with a programme extension and had to resume work despite being ill and unfit to work.

When FIJ contacted one of the hospital’s public relations officers, who identified himself as Ogunleke, he asked this reporter to call him back two hours later. After two hours, FIJ called him again, but he did not respond. FIJ also sent him a message, but he still didn’t respond.

FIJ also called the second PRO of the hospital, and like Ogunleke, he asked FIJ to call him two hours later, but when this reporter did, he did not respond. FIJ also sent him a text message, which has not been responded to.

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Published 24th Apr, 2024

By Olayide Soaga

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