Hospitals are supposed to be places of solace for the sick, the vulnerable, and for all who seek her service.
It should be like the inseparability of the heat of the sun from the rays of the sun, patients should not be separated from a hospital. Strike-action is arguably the predominant factor that separates patients from hospitals in contemporary Nigeria.
Nigeria’s Healthcare system, battered and sad as it seems, is held up by the efforts of government. I mean the Federal Government, not state government.
Patients and clients prefer to patronize Federal Hospitals (including Teaching hospitals, Specialist Centers and Medical Centers) because it provides a relatively cost-effective service. These Federal hospitals, serve as the first point of call for patients rather than a primary health care centre.
Now a bombshell!!!
Two Mega Federal Teaching Hospitals are currently on strike – Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba and the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu.
Lagos University Teaching Hospital Strike?
Doctors, under the aegis of Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), LUTH Chapter, had last week Wednesday, November 28, 2018, embarked on an indefinite strike to protest non-payment of three months salary.
It is all over the news and I had personally been expecting this latest strike. A few of my friends and colleagues working there assures that some form of skeletal services would be offered as the indefinite strike roll-on.
The hospital is now in a dilemma on how to find N2,724 billion shortfall to meet its wage bill for the rest of the year
This is how Guardian News reports the experiences of some patient caregiver.
“We just brought our landlord here who is in a coma but were turned back because of lack of bed space.
“They said unless we have to wait until another patient is discharged from the ward. But he is in a critical condition, so, we have to go”.
I find the comment of the Chief Medical Director of LUTH, Prof. Chris Bode assuring even though it sounds ‘common’.
“We are doing everything possible to make sure that the doctors are paid. Some of us are at Abuja as we speak inter-phasing with the ministries of finance, health and budget office to make that possible. The shortfall in salaries is because of change in the payment platform. This will be resolved soon. I urge the doctors to be patient with us. I must also commend the doctors who have been working to save patients’ lives.
“We are dealing with a situation where Ward B with 120-bed spaces is under renovation. This means that we have technically lost 120-bed spaces. However, this is unconnected with the strike but we are working very hard to make sure that Ward B is ready before the end of the year.”
University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital UNTH’s Account:
RESIDENT doctors at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, UNTH, Ituku/Ozalla, Enugu State have protested alleged abuse of their salaries and other entitlements by the hospital’s management.
They alleged that the finance department of the teaching hospital has short-changed them for a long time and would no longer tolerate it. They also asked that the Deputy Director of finance in the institution should resign from his job over the sundry allegations.
The chairman of Association of Resident Doctors, ARD, Dr Isaiah Nwideny said
“We have been short-changed for quite a long time. We are no longer treated as resident doctors. What is due for us has been taken away from us. We don’t know how much is our salary.
“We don’t know how much is our arrears. Just of recent, the Federal Government disbursed N100 million on behalf of doctors in UNTH, that money, we don’t know how it has been used. Today, we demand for transparency, we demand for honesty, we demand for openness, accountability. Let us know how much you have spent of our money.
“The money belongs to us, it is our effort, we will not allow them to take it away. Therefore today, we say no to all the illegal policies of UNTH.
“The first call duty allowance of every resident doctor has been withheld by the hospital management. It is illegal, criminal and unacceptable. We demand that that money be refunded to every resident doctor.
“Refund our N98,000; refund our N60,000. The last set of House officers have not been refunded their bond. Today, we demand that the DDF should refund the House officers and the residents their bond allowance. Bond is illegal.”
The government may never be able to resolve these critical issues except if there is a major shift in policy.