Patients Abandoned As Doctors Begin Nationwide Strike | CABLE REPORTERS

 The industrial action embarked upon by the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD), on Monday has left many patients and their relatives stranded as those on admission were discharged prematurely, investigations by our reporters have shown.

The association commenced a nationwide indefinite strike on Monday, September 7.

In Kano, the NARD members in both Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH) and the National Orthopaedic Hospital Dala, have joined the nationwide strike.

When our correspondent visited some wards at AKTH on Monday, there was a mass discharge of patients in both male and female wards, their conditions notwithstanding.

At the Accident and Emergency Ward, there was a noticeable decline in service delivery a large number of patients waited to be attended despite the depleted manpower.

The father of an eight-month-old patient, Malam Mukhtar Musa, said he was unable to see the doctor with his ailing child as at 5:42 pm because of the strike.

“I came here since 2 pm. The child lost its mother three days ago and it could not feed since then. I pray God will save us from this terrible experience,” he said.

The president of NARD in AKTH, Dr Abubakar Usman Nagoma and Dr Mamman Mohammed Lawal a consultant at Dala Orthopaedic Hospital both confirmed to Daily Trust that patients in the medical wards of the two hospitals are currently under the care of the medical consultants.

Nagoma said the strike was meant to press home the demands of resident doctors about their hazard allowance, salary shortfalls from 2016 to 2018, and Medical Residency Training funding among others.

When contacted, the chairman, University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital chapter of NARD, Dr Kaka Sanda, told Daily Trust that they joined the strike on Monday as directed by the national body of the association.

“We are 100% in support of the national body. Although our senior colleagues, the consultants are working. Patients will be taken care of by the consultants.

“We have directed all our members to stay at home to effect the strike action. We won’t go back to work until our national body says so. Or the federal government listens to our demands and addresses them.”

When our correspondent visited the teaching hospital yesterday, he observed that nurses and consultants were attending to patients at the amenity and general wards.

Our reporter observed that resident doctors were not attending to patients at some of the public hospitals visited in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Some residents who went for the out-patients departments were turned away.

“I submitted my card at the reception to see a doctor but I was told that doctors are on strike,” a patient told our reporter at the Out-patient Department of Maitama District Hospital, Abuja.

However, the reporter observed that full services were offered at the antenatal care sections and specialized clinics by consultants.

Hospitals in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have been offering skeletal services since last week Tuesday following the indefinite strike embarked upon by the Association of Resident Doctors, Federal Capital Territory Administration (ARD-FCTA). The national resident doctors’ strike has further worsened the situation.

In Lagos, our reporters observed that resident doctors in federal hospitals and state teaching hospitals have embarked on the strike. However, consultants and medical officers attended to some patients. The consultants are few compared to the number of resident doctors who attended to patients.

At the Federal Medical Centre in Ebute Metta, some doctors were seen attending to patients to reduce the effect of the strike on both admitted and outpatients.

Only consultants were observed attending to patients at the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, as the resident doctors have all joined the strike.

Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Public Affairs Officer Mr Kelechi Otuneme confirmed that only consultants, medical officers, pharmacists and nurses attended to patients as the resident doctors began their strike yesterday.

When contacted, one of the resident doctors at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) confirmed that all resident doctors in the hospital would be on strike till it is called off by the national body of the association.

All efforts to reach the ARD Chairman in LUTH and LASUTH as well as the chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association, Dr Adetunji Adenekan, proved abortive at the time of filing this report

The son of a patient with heart and liver problem at the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), said their father, Stephen Lodam, was attended to despite the strike.

The chairman of the resident doctors association, in Plateau State, Dr. Sokumba Aliyu, confirmed that members of the chapter have joined the strike action, adding that the consultants would continue with their treatment.

Some of the patients that visited the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital on Monday told our reporter that they were attended to.

A patient who identified himself as Jekeme said, “I don’t think they have joined the strike because I was attended to.”

Another patient who does not want his name in print said he was also attended to, though he could not say whether it was by a resident doctor or consultant.

“I am a cardiovascular patient and I visit the hospital every three weeks on routine checks. When I visited the hospital on Monday I met with my doctor,” he said.

Our reporter could not get the reaction of the leadership of Residents Doctors Association of UPTH on the matter but a source from the hospital who pleaded for anonymity told our reporter that they were yet to join the strike.

Efforts to speak with the chairperson of Rivers State Resident Doctors, Dr Josphen Sokolo, on their position was not successful as our reporter was not able to reach out to her.

Minister of Labour and Employment Senator Chris Ngige has said, in a statement signed by Charles Akpan, Deputy Director/Head, Press and Public Relations, that NARD has no reason to embark on industrial action since the federal government has already addressed six out of the eight demands of the association.

He said this is in addition to a pending case in the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) instituted by two civil society groups against NARD, the Attorney General of the Federation, and the ministers of Health, and Labour and Employment.

He called on the association to suspend the strike, adding that NARD should respect the country’s laws, the Labour laws and ILO Conventions.

He said, “When issues are being conciliated, all parties are enjoined not to employ arm-twisting methods to intimidate or foist a state of helplessness on the other party; in this case, your employers, the Federal Ministry of Health.”

The Minister noted that in spite of lean resources occasioned by the effect of COVID-19 on oil output, the Federal Government has already spent N20 billion on the Special Hazard and Inducement Allowances for Medical and Health Workers for April, May and June 2020.

Health workers threaten nationwide strike Sept 13

Meanwhile, health workers under the aegis of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and Assembly of Health Care Professionals on Monday threatened to commence a warning strike on September 13 if the federal government fails to meet their demands.

President of the union, Josiah Biobelemoye, urged the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN), to take over the negotiations between the union and the federal government from the substantive Minister Senator Chris Ngige, whom he accused of compromise.

The demands of the union among others include the immediate payment of the shortfall in the COVID-19 allowances of non-clinical staff in the federal health institutions presently pegged at 10 per cent to the agreed 50 per cent of basic salaries paid to all clinical staff in the FHIs.

“We demand unconditional payment of all withheld salaries at Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, JUTH, LUTH and the complement of April and May 2018 salaries.


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