Patients in many government-run hospitals in Lagos are cast in a grim situation as several health workers’ unions yesterday commenced indefinite strikes.
Nurses and midwives at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) in Idi-Araba, who are members of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), began an indefinite strike to pressure the government to meet their demands. In addition, members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) started a “partial strike” on June 9, 2016.
The industrial action by the two associations has left patients at LUTH to the mercy of attendants and house officers, as there are neither doctors nor nurses to attend to the sick.
Mary Okeke, whose relative is a patient at LUTH, told our correspondent that hapless patients were caught in the middle of the disagreement between the health workers and the government. “Since the doctors and nurses have gone on strike, we don’t know what to do with our sick relatives,” she said. According to her, some patients with access to private doctors were bringing in those doctors to change drips and do other minor tasks. She added: “Others just rely on house officers. There are patients who are not allowed to drink water or eat. Now we don’t know whether to give them water or food.”
But one of the medical attendants, who identified herself as Ms. Aduke Salami, told SaharaReporters that the house officers had been doing a great job of standing in for the striking doctors and nurses. “The house officers are doing a good job. It’s just that sometimes they lack the expertise of the doctors. You know they’re junior doctors and they were not there when these patients were diagnosed. But they always come in handy in times of emergencies. They have been helpful since the strikes started,” she said.
Gbenga Abiodun, a relative of a patient receiving treatment for jaundice fever, offered a wholly negative view. “You can see [the patient] is unconscious. Her drip has finished and there is nobody to attend to her. The house officers don’t know what to do. I don’t blame them though. They are not the ones who admitted her. Since this morning, we have not seen them,” he said. He said he would move his relative to another hospital if the doctors and nurses do not return to work soon. “I am looking at the situation for one or two days. If the doctors don’t come back, I will have to take her out of here,” he told our correspondent.
A man who identified himself as a “consultant” informed SaharaReporters that some medical consultants were attending to patients. He added that it was not all the medical doctors who went on strike. However, he remained the only consultant in sight during more than five hours that our correspondent was in a ward section at LUTH.
In a telephone conversation, Ms. Adelaja, the chairperson NANNM, told SaharaReporters that the nurses and midwives would not return to work until the government met their demands.