By SOLA OGUNDIPE
IT was a bleak yuletide weekend for persons seeking healthcare services at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Idi-Araba, where leaders of the Joint Health Sector Unions JOHESU, had called out their members on strike to press home demands for certain irreconcilable issues with government.
The strike, which began on Wednesday last week, and initially planned to be a 3-day warning action, was not called off as expected on Friday, but stretched into the weekend and Christmas holidays following breakdown of negotiations between leaders of the Union and government
Normal health care delivery services were on at the Federal Medical Centre, Ebute Metta and the Federal Neuro-psychiatric Hospital, Yaba. Health workers were also seen at their duty posts at the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi.
At the LUTH, it was virtually deserted as normal health services and other routine activities remained suspended as the health workers stayed away in compliance with the strike call.
Findings showed skeletal services were available for in-patients with critical cases, but they were minimal.
A senior medical consultant observing patients in the wards regretted the development but noted that admission of new patients had been suspended since the strike began last week. “We cannot take in new patients when even regular out-patient clinics, pharmacies, laboratories, theartres as well as the Accident & Emergency are shut. We are just trying to manage patients in the wards as best as we can, “ he remarked.
Another hospital source told Good Health Weekly that the absence of nurses in the wards was particularly telling on in-patients, many of who had to invite their relations to attend to their needs.
It was gathered that patients earlier earmarked for surgery have been either rescheduled or transferred to private hospitals. Many os those discharged at the onset of the strike, were yet to return while others on admission were urged to seek treatment elsewhere in their own interest.
Several of the workers who gathered in groups declined to comment when approached, but referred enquiries to the secretariat of the LUTH branch of the Joint House Unions and Association.
Strike unfair, return to work – Chukwu
IN reaction to the medical and health workers’ strike Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu has described it as “unfair”.
In a statement, signed on his behalf by Dr. Alex Onoyona, Snr. Technical Assistant (Policy & Human Resources for Health), Chukwu noted that from reports, the 3-day warning strike, taking place only in a few Federal tertiary hospitals, was called by the leaders of JOHESU over a number of matters for which the Federal government had already taken a final decision or is in the process of doing.
He said: “A careful scrutiny of their grievances, indicate that there is either a demand for what is not provided for in extant government circulars and regulations or for what requires a review of relevant Laws and regulations by the appropriate agencies and organs of government.
“While this is on-going, it is unfair for the leaders of JOHESU to call out any of its members to embark on any form of strike especially as they were very well represented in the Presidential Committee that was set up in August last year and has only just submitted its report.
Urging those on strike to return to work, the Minister directed all Chief Medical Directors and Medical Directors of the affected hospitals to utilise appropriate administrative procedures to handle breaches of the public service rules and regulations and to ensure the protection of all the staff and patients in their charge, always.