Patients Groan As NARD Further Hobbles Health Care Delivery

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ODIRI UCHENUNU-IBEH [Lagos] and Adebayo Waheed, [Ibadan] report that the ongoing industrial action embarked upon by the resident doctors across the country has hobbled health care service delivery in Lagos and Oyo states.

In assessing the impacts of the on-going strike action by resident doctors in the country, our correspondent  visited Lagos University Teaching Hospital, (LUTH), Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, (LASUTH), Gbagada General Hospital, Federal Medical Center in Lagos state and Igbobi Orthopedic Hospital and discovered that healthcare services delivery has been rendered near comatose in the hospitals.

In LUTH though the strike was ongoing there were quiet a number of patients on queue at some areas in the hospital, in-patients and out-patients were being attended to by some few doctors on ground, consultants and other medical officers.

In other hospitals like Igbobi, Gbagada General Hospital and Federal Medical Center, consultants and other medical officers have stepped up to take charge of treatment of patients.

Meanwhile, some patients who spoke with our correspondent said they were being attended to by nurses and consultant, but the crowd is discouraging.

They however appealed to doctors to call off the strike as it will only add to the sufferings of Nigerians.

Mrs. Catherine Oni, who came for check-up at LASUTH said, “I came around 8:45am and the crowd I saw nearly discouraged me. Though, on a normal day, there used to be crowd, but not as this. I had to wait patiently for my turn.”

She however appealed to federal government and National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD to resolve the issue, as most Nigerians cannot afford the price of private hospitals if things get worse.

Another patient who spoke in anonymity said she was being attended to, but she  prays doctors call-off the strike and government man up to manage the situation and ensure that such thing never happen again.

She said, “Enough of this every day strike by doctors. Government should man-up and adequately cater for the health needs of Nigerians. I am looking for a time when the Nigerian health system is properly managed by our government and all Nigerians can access quality healthcare whenever they need it.”

The chief medical director, LUTH, Prof. Chris Bode, while commenting on the state of the nationwide strike by the NARD said measures have been put in place in the hospital to ensure that patients are attended to.

Bode said, even though not too many doctors came to work as a result of the strike, the hospital had put measures in place to ensure safety of patients, noting that if one patient suffer or dies, it would be a loss to many.

He said, “Contingencies have been put in place as response to the strike. The senior doctors, house officers, and other non-residents are taking care of patients and there are no plans to discharge patients. Most of the doctors are off duty because of the holidays. This is because we record low turnout of patients during festivities.”

The CMD, while urging the federal government and NARD to come to a resolution said, “The two parties need to negotiate. Government has been responsible and the doctors have been matured in the approach.

“The doctors have stated their complaints, government has invited them and they are discussing. We should allow fruitful discussion to emerge so that the best decision can be taken and we can move ahead. The two parties should come together in the spirit of give and take.”

In the same vein former president of National Association of Resident Doctors,NARD, LUTH chapter, Dr Omojuowolo Olubunmi, said only resident doctors and not consultants were on strike.

He said, “A few of our members will be on ground but will be running on a very low capacity. We know that the patients suffer most during strike like this. That is why the resident doctors are working hard to ensure that the strike is not prolonged.”

In Ibadan our correspondent observed that patients have continued to witness more hardship in hospitals as a result of the strike.

When our correspondent visited the University College (UCH), Ibadan, the ever busy health institution was deserted.

Following the strike, it was gathered that relations of the patients have taken them away to either private or state government owned hospitals where better arrangement had been made to ensure that the patients are treated.

The few who were still loitering around the hospital are those who could not afford fees being charged at these other health institutions.

Also, there were other people who came from far places but waiting for their relation to come and rescue them.

The resident doctors’ strike was holistic, as no department of the hospital was left out.

Three days into the strike, some wards are overcrowded like the outpatient department (OPD).

Though, the monitoring committee set up to ensure full compliance is working but both consultants and nurses who are working were seen attending to few patients.

It was learnt that scores of patients were rejected as a result of the ongoing strike of the resident doctors.

However, the cases that were not critical were attended to with the help of consultants, nurses on duty and management staff while critical cases were asked to seek treatment elsewhere.

The chief medical director (CMD) of the hospital, Professor Temitope Alonge, who spoke on the development, reiterated that some of the management staff and nurses were handling some of the patients.

The CMD however said that the hospital was not admitting fresh cases because it lacked capacity to handle more cases.