By Becky John
Some patients in both the State and Federal Government-owned hospitals in Lagos on Wednesday commended striking doctors for attending to emergencies in spite of their industrial action. They spoke in interviews with newsmen in Lagos on the ongoing strike by doctors in the state and the sympathy strike by members of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA).
Dr Tope Ojo, the NMA Chairman, Lagos State chapter, had on Monday directed his members in both the Federal and State Government-owned hospitals to run only emergency services during the sympathy strike. Newsmen visit to LASUTH, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba and Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, showed that the doctors were attending to emergency cases.
Other health personnel including nurses, pharmacists and laboratory scientists were seen attending to few patients on admission and at the out-patient unit. At the Surgical Emergency Department of LASUTH, patients that had been operated on were seen lying on beds while the doctors and nurses were attending to them.
Also, emergencies were being offered at the Paediatric Department of the hospital as nursing mothers were being attended to with their babies. Doctors were seen on duty attending to patients at the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi and Gbagada General Hospital.
A patient at LASUTH, Miss Tolulope Monsuru, said that she had earlier undergone a minor surgery on her leg. Monsuru said that the doctors were attending to the patients that came in with different injuries.
“The doctors are doing well to make sure that we are given the service that we need in terms of medical attention.
“I have been on admission since Tuesday when I was brought in for surgery by my relations.
“I am amazed that the doctors are still attending to patients, because I am aware that they are on strike, “ she said.
Also, Mrs Adeola Adelaju, a parent who brought her baby to see a doctor, said that she was surprised to see the doctors attending to the patients in spite of the strike.
Adelaju said, “my baby had been running high temperature and I was going to rush her to a private hospital near my residence.
“But, I got the information from a friend that LASUTH is still running emergencies in spite of the strike and I quickly came down to the hospital.
“This is how healthcare in our hospitals should be and strikes should not be encouraged at all to stall healthcare delivery. “
Another patient at the Randle General Hospital, Surulere, Mrs Martha Okonkwo, said that she was delivered of her baby and was being attended to by the doctors.
“Other mothers who needed urgent medical attention are being attended to by the doctors.
“The doctors are working to save lives, but I hope the dispute between the government and the doctors will be resolved soon so that our hospitals can run normal activities,” Okonkwo said.
In her remark, Mrs Teniola Akanmu, another patient, urged both the government and doctors to resolve their contentious issues and restore normalcy in the health sector.
Akanmu said that incessant strikes would not speak well for the nation’s healthcare delivery.
“Health is a very important part of every life and should not be taken for granted at all.
“The government owes it a duty to its citizens to provide quality healthcare and ensure that they are giving it adequately.
“I am appealing to the government to resolve the issues affecting the doctors in order to maintain peace in our hospitals, “ she said.
In his reaction, Dr Wale Oke, LASUTH Chief Medical Director, said the hospital’s management would ensure that patients that need medical attention are attended to.
Oke said, “we will attend to patients only on emergencies as the doctors have provided emergencies for the patients. “
Also, Dr Raman Lawal, the Chief Medical Director, Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, said, “the doctors are attending to the patients available and those in the wards are also being taken care of. “
The doctors under the employment of the state government had on March 16 embarked on an indefinite strike over the refusal of the state government to accede to their demands. The issues in contention include the continued employment of doctors as casual workers and non-employment of resident doctors in the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja. Others issued are the alleged non-payment of their salary arrears for May 2012, and July, August and September 2014 due to the “No Work, No Pay’’ policy of the state government.