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… Hospitals discharge patients as residents doctors’ nationwide strike enters day 2

… Some patients forcefully discharged, asked to seek healthcare services elsewhere

… Few consultants, house officers were seen attending to a large number of outpatients

…FG doesn’t negotiate until we go on strike — Doctors

IT was a difficult day for patients across most tertiary hospitals across the country following the commencement of a strike yesterday by the National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, over disagreement with the federal government. Our correspondents’ reports across the country showed that some patients were forcefully discharged and asked to seek healthcare services elsewhere, while others waited long hours to get any doctor to attend to them. At the Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, ESUTTH, Parklane in Enugu, our correspondent who visited the hospital on Monday observed that patients were complaining and waiting for doctors endlessly even after paying for consultation fees. It was also observed that relatively healthy patients were being discharged in their numbers, while there were few consultants and house officers seen attending to the large number of patients on admission.

The president of the Association of Resident Doctors, ESUTH chapter, Dr Emmanuel Edoga said the association in the state-owned teaching hospital had fully mobilised and joined the ongoing strike. He explained that members ensured that they stabilised patients in their care and discharged most of them fit to go home early on Monday. According to him, the doctors will review the situation after 72 hours, hoping that the authorities will do the needful. “We have stopped work as directed and what we did early this morning is to stabilise patients under our care and discharge some of them fit to be out-patients. “However, we still have our senior doctors, the consultants as well as House Officers attending to patients and holding sway until we resolve the current impasse with the federal and state governments,” he said.

Going into the wards of the hospital, Mrs. Juliet Onyia, who came with her baby to the Children’s Ward, said she had waited for over four hours after paying consultancy fee to see a doctor but without result lamenting that “they collected consultancy fee of N500 from me knowing that they are not working.” “Nobody deemed it fit to inform me earlier about the development for me to take my child to another hospital. This situation is unfortunate,” Onyia further lamented. President of ARD at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, UITH, Dr Habeeb Badmus told the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, that their members also stand in solidarity with the call by the national body to press home their demands. In a communiqué he made available to NAN, the association accused governments of insincerity on the issues affecting the welfare of members. He observed that the government was reluctant in implementing the memorandum of action after 113 days, saying “the NEC unanimously resolved by vote to resume the total and indefinite strike from 08.00hrs of August 2”.

Habeeb stated that part of their demand was the delay by the federal government in disbursing the Medical Residency Training Funds, among others. “The Association also decries the undue hardship members on Government Integrated Financial Management Information System, GIFMIS, platform face, due to the delay in payment of their salaries ranging from three to seven months,” he said. According to him, the body noted that despite government promises to migrate members from the GIFMIS to the IPPIS platform, they were still stuck on the GIFMIS platform, which is laced with payment irregularities. At the Federal Medical Centre, FMC, Abeokuta on Monday, it was observed that patients on admission were being discharged. A NAN correspondent who visited the hospital reports that normal activities were reduced as some patients were turned back.

The few consultant physicians on duty could not fill in for the jobs of the resident doctors, as their capacity was restricted. A nurse who spoke with NAN said patients who were on admission were asked to pay their bills and go home or seek care elsewhere. Some patients expressed regret at the situation and appealed to the government to expedite action toward finding a lasting solution to the perennial strike by doctors all the time. The NARD chairman at the centre, Dr Busuyi Adebiyi told NAN that the strike was a directive from the national body, hence all affiliates must join. He noted that “until a counter directive is received, the strike goes on.” “It’s a nationwide strike, so all affiliates are expected to join, so doctors at the Federal Medical Centre are not working”, he added.

Reports from the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital, Bauchi, observed that medical activities in the hospital have been partially paralysed. Some of the places visited are the maternity, male surgery ward, gynecology, male medical ward popularly known as ” Sani Sami”, pediatrics ward, among others. Some patients who are still on admission lamented that the strike has affected them negatively as doctors are yet to attend to them, while some said nurses are attending to them. It would be recalled that NARD had called on its members to proceed on an indefinite nationwide strike, beginning from Monday, August 2.

Meanwhile, the President of the Association of resident doctors at the National Hospital, Abuja, Dr. Akanimo Ebong has accused the federal government of barely negotiating with health workers until an industrial action is introduced. Ebong, who is also the senior registrar at the hospital’s Department of Obstetrics And Gynecology, made the remark while speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily in Abuja.

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