Resident Doctors’ Strike Bites Harder As Hospitals Discharge Patients
It is hardly the ideal time for Nigerians seeking medical care, especially at the nation’s tertiary health facilities, as the National Association of Resident Doctors, or NARD, has crippled hospital services and abandoned patients to their fate due to its nationwide total and indefinite strike.
A visit to some of the hospitals revealed total compliance with the strike as only a few Consultants and House Officers were rendering skeletal services to patients with serious complaints.
However, new appointments were not given to patients as doctors were absent from their duty posts to do that.
Although the Consultants who are senior doctors were attending to emergency cases, many patients were turned back, including patients that required surgery.
Our correspondent gathered that despite the recent announcement by the Federal Government’s of 25 percent salary increase, the striking doctors have remained adamant.
For the doctors, it is either the Federal government meets their stated demands or they are not returning to work. Some were even quoted as saying that patients should go to the President for their medical treatment.
At the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos, NOHIL; Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, to other tertiary health institutions nationwide, including the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja the situation was the same.
For instance, at both the LUTH and LASUTH on Monday, hospital services were disrupted following the strike. Some of the patients who spoke to Good Health Weekly, lamented the effects of the strike.
Some patients who were attended to but asked to return after the doctors resumed, gave kudos to the Consultants who attended to them, even as others that were turned back or left unattended, decried the high cost of transportation to and from the hospitals.
Around 11:00 am when our correspondent visited LUTH, a few patients were seen in the waiting areas. Although there were skeletal services in some of the hospital clinics, a number of patients claimed they were told to go back home, as doctors were not on the ground to give out appointment dates.
At the surgery department, a patient told our correspondent that although it was her first time at the hospital, she was lucky to be among patients asked to stay.
The patient who identified herself as Jennifer said: “The doctors are on strike. I was told to come back on Thursday. I was referred here for surgery. They have many patients here, if these few doctors are not working, you can imagine thousands of patients that would have died today. Many of these patients paid so much to be here but were sent home unattended,.
“I pray that the government answers them fast. Nigerians are suffering. I am coming all the way from Ikorodu to this place. It is not funny as transportation is high.”
Another patient encountered at the Pharmacy area, claimed that the doctors were attending to patients based on the seriousness of their ailment.
“Not every patient is being attended to. Some people that came in the morning along with me were not attended to. The doctor did not even waste time with me but asked me to get some of these drugs.”
A nurse at LUTH who did not want her name in print told Good Health Weekly, that patients in the wards have been discharged and that only a few that are unable to go home were still in the wards.
“We are not admitting new patients and those in the wards have been discharged. We have a few patients in the ward that cannot be discharged. Consultants are coming around to check them but many have been discharged. Many of them were discharged over the weekend. If you have patients please tell such patients to go to other hospitals, not LUTH. The doctors are on indefinite strike and no one knows when they will return to work,” she stressed.
Also at LASUTH, a man who brought his mother to the hospital was asked to take her to another hospital.
According to the man, who identified himself as Mr Ugo, his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, but a nurse at the Oncology department advised him to take her to another hospital and they could not get another appointment since doctors were on strike.
Confirming the situation at LUTH, the Vice President of LUTH-ARD, Dr Omogbolahan Adenuga, maintained that the strike at the hospital remained total and indefinite.
“We have told our members to stay at home but Consultants and House Officers are working.”
He said the strike will only end when the government is ready to negotiate with them and meet their demands.
Asked what happens to patients, Adenuga who stated that patients should be sent to the President for treatment, argued that they were demanding the review of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure to its rightful value.
“Though the government has done something, we vehemently reject that paltry 25 per cent. They have also given a 25 per cent allowance quarterly; it is ridiculous we have told them that we don’t want it.
“In this job, you must be mentally okay before making decisions on people’s lives. We are saying that what they are offering cannot take us home again; we are saying that the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure should be reviewed.
“To review this is to tackle brain drain. Doctors are travelling abroad because of poor infrastructure, poor welfare, and poor working conditions, among others. These are the things we are asking for, and I don’t think these things we are asking for are too much.”
Adenuga disclosed that they had discharged patients in the wards and were not seeing patients presently.
“All Resident Doctors are at home. We are not working for now. We are not taking new patients for now. All patients should stay at home for now or they should be taken to the Federal Government,” he stated.
Also, giving an update on possible negotiation with the medical doctors, the National President of NARD, Dr Emeka Orji said the Federal government had not reached out to them.