16th August, 2010
Officials of the Lagos State Government, Nigeria met with representatives of doctors working in the stateâ€™s public hospitals today to find ways to amicably resolve their differences which led to doctorsâ€™ strike in the state.
Doctors, under the aegis of the Medical Guild and the Association of Resident Doctors, ARD, working in public hospitals went on strike last Thursday following the inability of the Lagos State Government to meet their demands.
The doctors are demanding the immediate implementation of the new Federal Government Approved Consolidated Medical Salary Structure, CONMESS approved for doctors at the federal level.
The National Industrial Court in Lagos, which the Lagos State Government had taken the case to, had at the weekend appealed to the doctors to suspend the ongoing strike to pave way for dialogue in order to resolve the crisis.
Following the courtâ€™s appeal, government officials met with the striking doctors at the State Government Secretariat, Alausa today to find the way forward and resolve the issues.
Issues expected to be discussed at the meeting include how to reach a compromise between the doctors and the government so that the strike could be called off in the interest of the masses bearing the brunt.
It is expected that the case which the government had filed in the court against the doctors earlier in the year would be withdrawn in line with the doctorâ€™s demand as well as payment of arrears owed the doctors by the government.
A top source in the ARD who craved anonymity told PM NEWS that the strike would only be called off if the government meets its demand and reaches a compromise with them.
He said that the outcome of the meeting would determine whether the doctors would call off the strike or not, adding that after the meeting, the congress would meet to deliberate on whether to end the industrial action or not.
As at the time of filing this report, detailed information about what transpired at the meeting had not been gotten, but it is expected that the state government would persuade the doctors to end the strike.
However, the strike, which entered its fourth day today has crippled activities in all the stateâ€™s General Hospitals and public health facilities in the state. Thousands of patients were seen roaming various public hospitals looking for doctors to attend to them.
At Orile-Agege General Hospital this morning, doctors were not on ground to attend to patients.
Patients with chronic cases who came to the hospital were not attended to as the strike bit harder, while only few cases that could be handled by nurses, such as ante-natal cases were being attended to.
A nurse in the hospital told our reporters that the doctors were still on strike and that patients would not be attended to until the strike was called off.
At Ifako-Ijaiye General Hospital, the strike was total as nothing was going on, while some patients were seen waiting endlessly for doctors to come to attend to their cases all to no avail.
A Matron told PM NEWS that they did not know how to tell the patients to go because the doctors were on strike, adding that when they are tired without anybody attending to them, they would go back on their own.
At the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, the strike paralysed activities in the hospitals as doctors were not on ground to attend to patients, while the hospital made use of Medical Record Officers to attend to patients.
Many patients were waiting endlessly for doctors to attend to them at the hospital as they had begun to feel the impact of the strike.
At Gbagada General Hospital and the Island Maternity Hospital, Lagos, the situation was the same as the strike was total with patients not being attended to. Only a few consultants attended to patients at Island Maternity Hospital.
At the General Hospital, Igando at the weekend, few doctors were seen attending to patients with serious medical cases, while those in outpatient department were asked to go back.
Some patients who commented on the situation, said they were not informed about the strike before hand, adding that they did not know why the doctors were on strike.
A resident of the area, Mrs Adunni Sunday whose son was admitted at the hospital for typhoid fever said that when the strike began, she was asked to take her son to a private hospital or employ a â€œhome serviceâ€ if she really wants her son to be treated effectively as the doctors were not ready to work.
â€œThe government should consider these doctors and assist us too because without them, we are finished,â€ she said.
According to the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris at the weekend, there was no way the government could pay the CONMESS now as it was not included in the budget and pleaded with the doctors to call off the strike.
He added that it would cost the state government N1.8 billion to pay the doctors monthly if it was to implement the CONMESS, saying that government still had other sectors of the economy begging for attention.