Resident doctors at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba (FNPHY), Lagos, are continuing their indefinite strike over shortage of medical personnel in the hospital.
The decision to continue the strike which began July 31 was announced in a press statement on Wednesday.
“The Association of Resident Doctors, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital (FNPHY) decided to continue the indefinite strike following their resolution at a Congress held on August 19,” the statement said.
It gave the sole reason for the strike as the shortage of resident doctors in the institution.
“The severe lack of doctors to provide seamless delivery of mental health service needs timely interventions of the management and stakeholders,” the statement said.
The doctors said the gross shortage of manpower has resulted in huge workload, following the mass exodus of doctors from the hospital.
ARD President speaks
Speaking with PREMIUM TIMES, FNPHY ARD President, Azeez Enifeni, said his colleagues embarked on the strike over the shortage of resident doctors in the institution.
Mr Enifeni said the shortage has affected the remaining doctors and other professionals in the hospital as well as the patients and their families.
Resident doctors are doctors who already have a basic medical degree and are now working on a post-graduate degree.
They are often employed and trained by a hospital. They are the major hub of Nigeria’s tertiary hospitals as they are the ones who mostly attend to patients.
“The lack of employment of resident doctors has become a major challenge for service delivery in the institution. Doctors have been meeting with the management and governing board over time urging them to employ more doctors but they have not done so.
“Since 2014, there has been no major employment of resident doctors in the institution. Over 40 doctors have left only about 15 has been employed to replace those who left. We had about 67 resident doctors in the hospital in 2014, now we have only 33 doctors on ground. This is something that has been going on for a while. This is not acceptable as it is putting a strain on service delivery in the hospital.”
Mr Enifeni said the associations met with the management of the hospital and the governing board on several occasions but nothing much has been done about the problem.
He accused the management of not taking the problem seriously as it kept claiming that the employment of new doctors was being delayed by bureaucratic processes.
Mr Enifeni said if the management accepts the urgency of the problem it can speed up the process.
“The management is insensitive to the plight of the over 535 in-patients and 220 outpatients daily who now receive suboptimal, if not pernicious, mental health service in the 20 days that this industrial action has been allowed to fester without goal-directed interventions,” he said.
He said before the strike, a doctor was attending to an average of 50 patients a day.
“On a typical clinical day, we see an average of 200 patients, meaning a doctor sees about 50 patients. This has increased the waiting time for patients and also a heavy workload for all the staff.
“Clinics are expected to be between 9 a.m to 2 p.m, but due to the shortage of doctors it most times last till 6 p.m. Patients now have to spend the entire time in the hospital and this is unacceptable for doctors and other professionals in the hospital.
“The Hospital Management has blatantly refused to replace the annual exit of resident doctors for the past four years. Instead, they have let patient load and clinical work increase significantly for hapless resident doctors whose health and academic pursuits have suffered irreparably
“In light of the above, the Hospital Management’s insistence on employing only FIVE locum doctors is highly provocative of our demands. It hardly improves the status quo which already puts overworked resident doctors at the brink of academic failure, health challenges, and malpractice suits.”
Mr Enifeni said the association has resolved not to resume until the management employs or takes steps to employ new resident doctors.
“We have resolved to continue our industrial action to insist on standard mental health care for our clients and quality work experience for our overworked doctors, until such a time the Hospital Management deems it fit to meet our singular demand.
“Until we see that concrete steps with evidence are taken, we will not be resuming. We are also calling on Nigerians, relevant stakeholders and the presidency to prevail on the Hospital Management to do the needful. He said.
Hospital management reacts
But the hospital management said the hospital has been doing what it can to resolve the issue.
The spokesperson of the institution, Philomena Omoike, in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES said the hospital has 37 resident doctors and 20 consultants.
Ms Omoike said the management has applied for approval to employ new resident doctors.
“We cannot go ahead until we get the approval before employing new doctors.”
She said the shortage was as a result of doctors leaving before finishing their programme, which she said is having a negative effect on the institution.
“The management has spoken with them, held three or four meetings with them and they are trying to find a solution,” she said.