The Doctors strike has paralysed healthcare services.
As the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, remains resolute on its strike, health workers in some government-owned hospitals in Lagos State on Friday rendered skeletal services.
At the hospitals visited – including the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja; Surulere General Hospital; Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi Araba; Federal Neuro-Psychiatry Hospital; Yaba National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi; and the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Ebute Meta – nurses, laboratory scientists, pharmacists and some other health workers were seen going about their duties.
The doctors’ strike had paralysed healthcare services as only few patients were seen in the various wards.
At Igbobi, a few patients were at the out-patients department and accident and emergency department of the hospital. Nurses and pharmacists were attending to the few patients still in the hospital.
A senior officer at the hospital, who pleaded anonymity, said that the hospital had not been admitting new patients and consultants were not attending to patients.
“Only a few consultants have been coming, and they have not really been attending to patients. Some consultants have not even been working since they called the strike,” he said.
A patient on admission at the hospital, Amaka Umeh, said that no doctor had come to check on her since the strike commenced.
“Nurses have been attending to us, but they have their limit. They will always tell us that a doctor will come, but I have not seen any of them,” she said.
Mrs. Umeh appealed to the Federal Government to meet the demands of the doctors to enable them to resume work and alleviate sufferings of patients.
Another patient at the out-patients department, Collins Osamena, claimed that Nigerian doctors lacked sympathy for patients.
“It is not fair that our doctors can decide to go on strike almost all the time without considering the health status of patients. I am hoping that the government will find a way to resolve this strike in the health sector for the sake of patients,” Mr. Osamena said.
At the FMC, the situation was different as the Medical Director, Yewande Jinadu, and three other doctors were on ground attending to the patients. Some patients were seen receiving treatment at the out-patients department of the hospital.
Henry Etim, the Head of Corporate Affairs of the institution, said, “We are doing everything within our powers to see that our patients’ lives are not in danger as a result of the strike.”
At the neuro-psychiatric hospital, the Medical director, Lawal Ramaan, said that he had been attending to the patients in critical conditions, with the assistance of some other senior management staff.
“Skeletal works are going on; we are trying to run the clinic and also attend to the patients on admission. At the emergency unit, we are also attending to those that have very bad cases, while those who we feel can go home are being discharged,” Mr. Ramaan said.
Also, Omotayo Ojo, a Consultant Neurosurgeon at LUTH, said skeletal services were being rendered by consultants and some other health workers.
A resident doctor at LASUTH, Oluwajimi Shodipo, said that patients with emergency cases were being attended to by nurses and other health workers, while clinics were closed.
A patient at the Surulere General Hospital, Justina Izeze, said that she was in the hospital along with few patients with the hope that she would be attended to.
She said, “I have already registered with a private hospital, but I still visit this hospital hoping to get the service I need. I hope the strike will soon be suspended because people depend on the doctors for their health.”
The NMA Publicity Secretary in Lagos, Peter Ogunnubi, said, “Consultants are affiliates of NMA and have a right to decide to join NMA in the strike. NMA comprises all doctors in Nigeria with each belonging to other bodies such as the Association of Resident Doctors.”
The National President, Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria, Steven Oluwole, had in a statement on July 6 urged his members nationwide to ignore the ongoing strike by NMA.
Mr. Oluwole assured Nigerians of the association’s commitment to uninterrupted and high quality healthcare services in all public hospitals.
The NMA members had on July 1 began an indefinite nationwide strike in protest of Federal Government’s non-implementation of some agreements it had with the union.
Other demands included immediate appointment of a Surgeon-General of the Federation and increase of hazard allowance to N100, 000 monthly.
The doctors are also demanding reservation of the position of the chief medical director for medical doctors only.