The legal battle over who is entitled to manage the laboratory departments in Teaching Hospitals and Federal Medical Centres across the country has been put to rest as the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) sitting in Abuja has ordered both federal and state government owned health facilities across the country to create a separate department and give free hand for medical laboratory scientists to practice their profession.
The court ruled that Medical Laboratory Scientists should be allowed to discharge their duties freely without being supervised by doctors appointed by the management of Teaching Hospitals and Federal Medical Centres.
The battle over who is entitled to manage the Laboratory Department in those hospitals has been on for over four years and the same court had 2013 ruled in favour of the laboratory scientists but the respective hospitals failed to comply with the judgment.
However, in two separate judgments on Friday, Justice Nkechi Esewe, gave the management of Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) 30 days to comply with the ruling or be sent to prison.
The court frowned at the situation where the medical laboratory scientists are not given a separate department and are being headed by a medical doctor.
While delivering the first judgment in a case between medical laboratory scientists and the management of Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), Justice Esewe, noted that the court could have taken the JUTH management straight to prison but that it considered their status in the society and the adverse effect it will have on the general public.
The court warned that it would be forced to take the JUTH management to prison if at the expiration of the 30 days it failed to implement the pronouncement of the court.
In the second ruling, which was in a case between the medical laboratory scientists and five other hospitals, Justice Esewe reiterated that the medical laboratory scientists should be allowed to discharge their duties freely as a distinct department without being directed by a medical doctor.
The hospitals who were respondents in this case include the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakalike; University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Ituku-Ozala; Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital Nnewi, National Orthopaedic Hospital, Enugu and Parklane Hospital Enugu.
Reacting to the judgment, Counsel to the Five hospitals, Barrister Ugochukwu Nworgu noted that in 2013, the court made several orders which bordered on the right of the applicant to the effect that they should be accorded their due respect as separate profession in the health sector of the federation but some hospitals looked at it with non-challant attitude that it does not concern them.