Patients Groan As Doctors’ Strike Worsens


Many patients were turned back this morning by security officials at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Idi-Araba, following the decision of doctors at the Federal government-owned health institution to join their Lagos State counterparts on strike to press home their demands for better working conditions.

P.M.NEWS gathered that other health personnel in other federal institutions in Lagos will join the strike on Monday in solidarity with their colleagues.

Investigations in all the wards of LUTH revealed that no doctor was on duty.  Rather, nurses were seen rendering skeletal services to patients groaning in pains in the wards.

There has been no withdrawal of patients yet but the hospital is no longer receiving patients.

Our correspondent saw some student doctors loitering around the corridors of the wards without attending to patients.

Most of them refused to talk to P.M.NEWS. Instead, they referred our reporter to the executives of their union, the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA.

Efforts to speak with the union executives were not successful, as none was available to comment on the  strike.

A non medical staff who spoke on condition of anonymity, described the strike embarked upon by doctors on federal payroll as a sympathy strike to show solidarity with doctors in the employment of the Lagos State government.

He told P.M.NEWS that the strike started yesterday and  “if by Monday nothing is done to bring the situation back to normal, other non medical staff will join.”

At the Federal Medical Centre, FMC, Ebute Metta, Lagos, this morning, patients were left to their fate as there were no doctors to attend to them.

As at the time of going to press, P.M.NEWS observed that no doctor was on duty while nurses attended to patients on ante-natal only.

Speaking with P.M.NEWS, Mr. Innocent Emmenike, who was at the FMC to collect the reading glasses for his daughter, wondered what would happen if there was an emergency and there were no doctors to attend to victims.

Emenike said there was no doctor to attend to him, adding that his daughter will be returning to school without a pair of glasses which he came to collect.

“I am appealing to the government to meet the demands of the striking doctors in the interest of the suffering masses,” he pleaded.

Another patient, Mrs. Mary Igbuda who came from Igando area of Alimosho, Lagos State also urged government to meet the doctors’ demand and put an end to the strike.

Mrs. Mbanefo Mary Iyke said she was not aware of the doctors’ strike until she got to the gate where security men turned her back.

At the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos, a consultant who does not want his name mentioned,  said the doctors’ strike has paralysed activities at the hospital.

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Meanwhile, activists in Lagos, this morning, called on Governor Babatunde Fashola to immediately resolve the rift between his government and the striking doctors and stop avoidable death of patients in the hospitals.

“A mega city without mega healthcare system is a mega nonsense,” Comrade Shina Odugbemi, Coordinator of Civil Society Intervention Group, said at a press conference this morning.

The Civil Society Intervention Group is an adhoc group  set up by a group called African Renaissance Coalition and the Democracy Volunteers to protest against perceived injustices against medical doctors.

Odugbemi said: “The objective is to stop preventable deaths and suffering of Lagosians.

“We believe that the government is Leviathan, using the words of Thomas Hobbes. Our natural right is all we have all submitted to empower the state where we have Governor Fashola as the custodian of our authority and our natural rights.

“It will be anti-thetical, unproductive and dangerous for us to fold our arms and allow government to treat issues relating to our health and wellbeing with kid gloves.

“That is why we are on a rescue mission.  Government must immediately concede to the demands of the workers. We call on Governor  Fashola to immediately accede to the demands of the doctors and commence forthwith payment of CONTESS salary scale for doctors employed by the state so that they can resume work and stop the preventable deaths.

“We call on government of Fashola to recall the former Chairman of the Guild of Doctors in Lagos State, Ibrahim Olaifa, who was unjustly sacked for leading a legitimate doctors’ strike.  He must be paid his full salary and allowances up to date.

“We also call for adequate healthcare facilities befitting the status of a metropolitan state. Enough of Lagos show. We want to see genuine and concrete human and facility development in Lagos State.

“Finally, we are calling on the governor to resign within seven days  if he cannot fix this healthcare issue. People have been dying for weeks now and the government is now saying that they will sack all the doctors.  This is highly irresponsible.”

The activists said they will take all the sick people to Alausa after the expiration of the ultimatum .

Comrade Debo Adeniran, Chairman Coalition Against Corupt Leaders, CACOL, said the strike is about making doctors to live a decent life that is beffiting of their status.

“If doctors work to save lives, theirs also deseve to be preserved. So long doctors work without commensurate working conditions, they cannot concentrate on their primary assignment of saving lives.

“More than 98 percent of Lagosians depend on public hospitals for their treatement, Fashola should stop all the pretences and face the task of providing public services in the best interest of the people,” Adeniran said.

Dr. Taofik Majolagbe, Vice Chairman, Medical Guild in Lagos State said, “We are demanding for the implementation of a consolidated salary scheme for all doctors that was approved by the federal government. It is to make sure that doctors earn the same thing globally to prevent migration and decent life.

“A doctor in Lagos attends to between 50 and 70 patients a day, but as at now, we have not received any offer from the government. They must come to the table.”

—Jamiu Yisa, Kazeem Ugbodaga & Simon Ateba

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