The patients are the usual victims of the war between health workers and the government.
As health workers down their tools to press for increment in their salaries, the patients feel the brunt and decry the insensitivity of the medical workers.
Friday marked the fourth day the members of the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, MHWUN, commenced a strike to press for an increment in their salaries. Since Tuesday, September 18, essential medical services in Federal Government owned hospitals have been paralyzed.
The workers’ action followed the non-payment of the Consolidated Health Salary Structure, CONHESS, to medical and health workers in the Federal Government-owned hospitals and health institutions.
An in-patient at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Mosunmola Dada, who had her leg cast said that the striking workers are not sensitive to human lives.
She said she came from Ikorodu on Friday morning with her mother, only to discover that the workers were on strike.
“The workers should consider the lives of the patients first and embrace dialogue instead of going on strike,” Ms. Dada said.
Also, a relative of an in-patient, Isaac Nwosu, urged the government to meet the workers’ demands.
“Although, the doctors are attending to us, the nurses in the wards are few. I think this is putting more strain on the doctors. If the strike continues, the doctors might be less attentive and this may compound the problems of patients.
“We are appealing to the Federal Government to meet the workers’ demand,” he said.
Another out-patient at LUTH, Etemesan Eke, urged the Federal Government to find ways of resolving the crisis in the health sector.
“The medical and health workers, doctors and nurses are not supposed to go on strike because of human lives involved,” she said.
Olabisi Akintunji, also an outpatient at LUTH, expressed sadness over the health workers’ action.
She said that she could not afford to go to another hospital.
“It is very expensive to go to private hospitals and LASUTH is quite a distance from where I am living,” she said.
A trader, Rita Mbagwu, narrating her experience, appealed to the Federal Government to resolve the issue to avoid a prolonged strike.
“The hospitals are our hope when we fall ill. The government should find ways of resolving the issue,” she urged.
A check at the Neuro Psychiatric Hospital showed that none of the striking health workers was on duty and only the doctors were seen attending to the patients.
At the Orthopedic Hospital on Ikorodu road, the administrative block was under lock and key. However, the emergency block was opened and some patients with critical conditions were being attended to.
An intern doctor at LUTH, who pleaded anonymity, urged the Federal Government to meet the demands of the health workers.
“Really, this strike is uncalled for and not necessary because the union is already negotiating with the Federal Government,” he said.
An administrative staff, who simply identified himself as Folabi, said that the Federal Government should not renege on the implementation of the consolidated salary for health and medical workers.
“If we are not happy with our pay, how can we carry out our duties diligently?” he queried.
Mr. Folabi, however, called on the doctors to join them in the strike to add more weight to their demands.
The MHWUN chairman in Lagos, Ibe Nwokenta, said the workers will continue with the strike until their demands are met.
Mr. Nwokenta said that the union is resolute on the struggle for the implementation of CONHESS.
He urged Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, to withdraw all the previous circulars directing the skipping of implementation of the new salary scale from all the parastatal and agencies under the ministry.