By Becky John
As doctors in Lagos State Government-owned hospitals commenced a three-day warning strike on Wednesday, skeletal activities were being rendered by other health workers in hospitals across the state. Doctors under the aegis of the Medical Guild had on Feb.17 declared a three-day warning strike to press home their demands. They demanded that the state government should stop engaging doctors as casual workers and revisit the suspension of the training of resident doctors in the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH).
The doctors are also protesting against the application of “No Work, No Pay” policy of the state government to members of the guild. It was reported that the striking doctors were only attending to emergency cases. Other categories of health workers including the administrative staff, nurses, pharmacists and laboratory attendants were also seen at their duty posts attending to in-patients and those at the emergency unit.
Dr Moruf Abdulsalam, the President, Association of Resident Doctors, LASUTH branch, told NAN that his members were only attending to the emergency cases.
“The doctors have complied with the directive to begin the strike today and no doctor is currently attending to the outpatients.
“But, we are only attending to the patients who are currently in the wards and those in need of emergency services, “ he said.
Abdulsalam urged the general public to appeal to the state government to resolve issues affecting the doctors.
“It is the public that suffer these setbacks and that is why we use this medium to call on them to appeal to the state government.
“No doctor likes to go on strike and we do not want to see our patients denied of getting the necessary healthcare delivery they need.
“We want the state government to accede to our demands to avert unnecessary strikes, “ he said.
Dr Ibrahim Ogunbi, a doctor at the Randle General Hospital, also told NAN that doctors were sensitive to the plight of their patients.
“We are passionate about our patients and that is why we decided to render emergency services to the patients during the period of the strike.
“We hope that the state government would accede to our demands to enable us to continue doing our jobs, “ Ogunbi said.
Some patients, who spoke to NAN expressed disbelief and disappointment at the commencement of the doctors’ strike.
Mrs Jocelyn Afejuku, a patient at LASUTH, said she did not notice that the doctors had commenced strike as the nurses were attending to her needs.
Afejuku appealed to the doctors to discontinue the strike in the interest of patients who required the health services.
“The doctors should find a way of negotiating with the state government to avert strikes because healthcare services will be affected, “ she said. Another patient at the hospital, Mr Dekunle Alabi, said that the role of doctors were very important in the nation’s health facilities.
“There should be other ways of communicating with the government apart from strikes.
“I appeal to the government to be responsible to its citizens by making sure that our health facilities are adequately equipped and ensure that doctors are well motivated to do their jobs, “ he said.
In his comment, Mr Ayodele Adeleye, an accident victim brought to Randle Hospital, said that he got to know that the doctors were on strike from the nurses.
“I cannot afford to visit a private hospital now because I don’t have enough money to meet the charges there, “ he said.
Another patient, Mrs Rita Kanu, said she came to the hospital for a routine check, but was unable to see any doctor due to the strike.
“I hope the strike would not go beyond today.
“The state government should do the needful and resolve the issues affecting the doctors because we need the doctors to attend to our health needs, “ she said.
The LASUTH Chief Medical Director, Dr Wale Oke, could not be reached to comment on the strike as his secretary told NAN that he was not available. Also, all attempts to reach him on phone were unsuccessful as he did not reply to SMS sent to him.