Patients Groan As Health Workers' Strike Paralyses Activities In LUTH
The ongoing strike by the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) is taking its toll on the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), as it entered its fourth day on Friday.
The 'work to rule' industrial action was declared on Tuesday by the non-doctors of the nation's hospitals, especially, teaching hospitals and Federal Medical Centres (FMCs) to seek improved working conditions from the Federal Government.
Five bodies that constitute JOHESU are the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP), Non Academic Staff Union of Universities and Tertiary Institutions (NASU), Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) and Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI).
A visit by Bounce News to LUTH on Friday showed that nurses, pharmacists, laboratory technologists, administrative and establishment staff were absent from duties in compliance with the union's directives.
All the various departments visited were either devoid of activity or locked. The compliance level was total, as skeletal services were observed.
Only doctors of the hospital were sighted attending to patients. They attended to the patients without their case files.
It was observed that the hospital was not taking new admissions, as new patients were told to return on a fresh date.
Similarly, most patients, who had appointments were not attended to but told to come when the strike was over.
The hospital pharmacies at various departments were also under lock and key because of the strike.
This development made the patients reforted to gettting their drugs at nearby pharmacy shops..
One of the outpatients, Femi Akinwale, who was not attended to but told to come back expressed dissapointment.
“I am begging government to help end this strike. We are suffering. The cost of the medicine in private pharmacy is too expensive. Buying the medicine from government hospital is cheaper and convenient.”
Another patient, Bridget Nwachukwu urged the Federal Government and the union to reach a compromise for the sake of the masses.
“We are not happy about the situation because the less privileged who cannot afford to go to private hospitals are the ones at the receiving end of this strike.”
The striking workers are, however, adamant with their demands.
The Chairman of MHWU, LUTH branch, Rotimi Akerele, maintained that "until their demands are met, there is no going back to work, despite pleas from the government that the public should be considered.
"The strike is total and indefinite. We cannot afford to be an exception, but we hope the Federal Government would act fast on our demands to enable us suspend the strike
A doctor, Abiodun Thomas, told our correspondent that doctors have resorted to carrying out the duties of nurses. He, however, said doctors were already overwhelmed with work.
The ongoing strike is as a result of the non-implementation of agreement reached with the government.
JOHESU had on September 30, 2017 suspended a nationwide strike after signing a memorandum of terms of settlement with the government. The agreement was to be implemented within five weeks. But that never happened.
The issues in contention are the upward adjustment of CONHESS Salary Scale; arrears of Skipping of CONHESS 10; employment of additional health professionals, the implementation of the court judgement and upward review of retirement age from 60 to 65.