By Chioma Obinna & Charity Ugwuanyi
AS the strike by Federal health workers under the auspices of the Joint Heath Sector Unions, JOHESU enters its fourth day, patients are being discharged at the various hospitals following the inability of the parties to resolve the trade dispute even as patients have deserted some of the hospitals.
Federal health workers embarked on a nationwide indefinite strike following failure of the Federal Ministry of Health to withdraw its circular against the skipping of levels in the Consolidated Health Salary Scale, CONHESS 10.
Investigation by Vanguard showed that the hospitals are discharging patients following inability to attend to their needs, as a result of the absence of the health workers. Meanwhile, a team of executive members of the health unions, yesterday, stormed all federal government-owned health institutions and agencies in Lagos to ascertain the effectiveness of the strike as well as ensure that all workers comply with their directive.
A visit to some of the federal government-owned hospitals revealed that patients have deserted them and the beehive of activities the hospitals are known for, were fast disappearing.
Institutions like the National Orthopaedic Hospital Igbobi, Lagos has become a ghost town except for few patients in the ward who were said to have been waiting to clear their medical bills to enable them obtain a pass. Both the records department, accident and emergency departments; out-patient department and administrative blocks were under lock and key. The situation was not different in all the institutions visited.
A patient simply identified as Prudence who spoke to Vanguard in an emotion laden voice said: “Please, I am not in a mood to talk, you could see that I am very weak now. I have been waiting since morning to see if I can obtain my bill and offset it to enable me get a pass. I am not supposed to be here till this afternoon.”
A patient’s relative, who identified herself as Mrs. Sherifat Jimoh, lamented the fact that patients in the wards were abandoned. Jimoh said that since Tuesday when the strike started, no doctor has visited or attended to the patients in the wards.
Her words: “I brought my younger sister who was involved in a motor accident since Monday and she was attended to that very day but since the strike started on Tuesday, no body is attending to us. This is three days now, I hope her case does not get complicated because no body knows when they will call off their strike.”
Reacting to the discharge of patients, the Chief Public Relations Officer of the National Orthopaedic Hospital Igbobi, Lagos, Mr. Funsho Ige said due to the nature of the strike, the hospital decided to discharge some of the patients that can go home and allow those who cannot go home to remain.
He said: “We don’t have any problem with our own unions but we cannot stop them; we have regular meetings and we interact with them also. But when this happened, it happened suddenly. We have to discharge some patients that can go home and those who cannot go, we have made an arrangement for them to be taken care of.”