By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA- ONE week after resident doctors began industrial action over a disagreement with their employer, the federal government, over some demands, patients have appeared to be at the receiving end, as they have remained unattended to by the doctors.
While the federal government-owned hospitals have remained without resident doctors since the strike began, patients who were on admission before the development have been left in the care of nurses and some consultants engaged by the management of the medical facilities.
In Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory city, some patients have been evacuated to some private hospitals within the city centre while others were moved to other hospitals outside FCT due to poor attention resulting from the unavailability of resident doctors.
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At the National Hospital, Abuja, the situation was not different when Vanguard visited to assess the situation and the impact of the strike on the hospital and patients.
Although Vanguard was not allowed into the hospital’s wards, some of the staff spoken to on condition of anonymity, said many patients have been evacuated by their relatives while a handful of others still left in the wards were being attended to by nurses and other relevant medical workers.
A female medical worker, who begged not to be mentioned because she was not permitted to speak to the media, said:” Many patients have been taken out of the hospital because there are no doctors on the ground. The few left are being attended to by other health workers like us, you can go inside the ward to see things for yourself.”
A patient who was seen sitting outside the corridor of the male ward, said he was still around because he was discharged before the strike began, adding, however, that he had not settled his bill, the reason he could not leave the hospital yet.
According to him, “Relatives of many patients took their loved sick ones away to other places.”
The hospitals Public Relations Officer, PRO, Dr Tayo Haastrup, was not on the ground to speak on the development and calls to his known mobile telephone line were not answered.
Some staff in his office approached to comment on the issue, declined to speak, saying only their boss could speak.
Also, at the Maitama General Hospital, both male and female wards were almost empty as doctors were not on the ground.
Patients had been evacuated to private hospitals, according to a source who identified herself as Bekky Audu.
A visiting patient, who gave his name as Bako John, told Vanguard that he was given an appointment to the hospital “today but no doctors to attend to me when I came.”
“As it stands now, I don’t know what to do as no one was around to even rebook me for another appointment,” he lamented.
Attempts to speak to the hospital’s information officer was not successful as he was said to have gone out of office since 11:30 am before Vanguard got there
Medical workers approached for comments declined, saying they were not in authority to do so.
A look at some wards showed that they were virtually empty with only a few patients inside.
Recall that the resident doctors had embarked on a nationwide strike over welfare packages, unpaid salaries among other issues a week ago.
This followed a directive to that effect by their umbrella union, the National Association of Resident Doctors,NARD.
The body of Nigerian resident doctors had informed that the strike was informed by poor welfare packages, unpaid salaries, and alleged ineptitude of
Registrar of Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria,MDCN, Dr Tajudeen Sanusi amongst other demands.
NARD President, Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, who had conveyed resolutions taken at the extraordinary National Executive Council, NEC, meeting of the Association in a communique, had warned that the only way to avert the strike was the immediate payment of all salaries owed house officers including March salaries, regardless of the quota system, before the end of business on the 31st March 2021.
Okhuaihesuyi had lamented the inhumane treatment meted at members in some state tertiary institutions who he said, were owed months of salaries, and some of the association’s members in GIFMIS platform “who have not been paid salaries for four months now due to delay in biometric capturing by IPPIS department.”
The doctors demanded the sack of Dr Sanusi, for failure to demonstrate competence in the handling of the central placement of house officers,
“We want immediate review of the Act regulating Postgraduate Medical Training in Nigeria in line with international best practices to remove the unnecessary rigours in Residency Training in Nigeria, one of the factors attributed to brain drain in the health sector,” they had said in the communique.
“We also want immediate commencement of employment into all Government-owned hospitals to improve service delivery to Nigerians, enhance Residency Training and curb the attendant brain drain in the health sector.
“We also demanded the reintroduction of medical super salary structure and specialist allowance for all Doctors as already approved for some other health workers. This will go a long way in ensuring peace in the health sector”, they had also said in the communique.
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