Patients seeking medical attention in government-owned hospitals in Lagos State are still being turned back as striking doctors have remained adamant, even as the state government announced plans to recruit new doctors to attend to patients.
Doctors in the employ of Lagos State began a strike on April 24 to back their demand for a downward review of their income tax.
They also want the government to pay teaching allowances to house officers.
A correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), who visited some hospitals in the Lagos metropolis on Monday, found that patients were still being turned back to seek medical help elsewhere as there were no doctors to attend to them.
At the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, the waiting areas and wards at the Medical and Surgical Emergency Departments and the Out-Patients Clinics were empty.
At the Gbagada General Hospital, patients were asked to go to other hospitals as there were no doctors to attend to them.
Miss Nike Adeosun, a Lagos State University (LASU) student and patient, was at the hospital but was asked to leave as there was no doctor to attend to her.
Adeosun said that she had difficulties sitting and standing up and that she was carried to the hospital only to find that there was no doctor to attend to her.
She said that she was told that she needed surgery but had not been able to get it done since the doctors' strike began on April 24.
“I need surgery as soon as possible as I am going through a lot of pain. I cannot sit, neither can I stand and I have to be assisted to walk around as walking around all by myself is very painful.
“I was scheduled for surgery but I have not been able to get it done because of the strike and I cannot afford to go to a private hospital because their services are very expensive,'' she said.
Mrs Dotun Akanni, the mother of a three-year-old child who has severe fever, said that they arrived at the hospital at 7 a.m., hoping that they would find a doctor to attend to him.
She said that the nurses told her to take the child to another hospital as there was nothing they could do to help since the doctors were on strike.
At the General Hospital, Odan, Lagos, a 24-year-old University of Lagos (UNILAG) student, who had appendicitis and was scheduled for surgery on April 26, had yet to be operated upon as doctors were on strike.
This is very unfair. We cannot afford private treatment and they are askingus to go to a private hospital. Where do I get the money to pay for treatment there? I am just a roadside corn seller," she said.
She said that she was going through a lot of pain, had not been attending classes for about three weeks and had been doing self-medication.
The undergraduate urged the state government to meet the demands of the doctors so that they would go back to work and save lives.
However, in an interview with NAN on Monday, the Chairman, Lagos State Medical Guild, Dr Olumuyiwa Odusote, said that the guild would not, under any circumstance, go back to work until all their demands were met.
NAN recalls that the state government last week announced plans to recruit new hands to replace the striking doctors to cater to those seeking medical attention in state-owned health institutions.
Odusote described the plan of the state government to recruit new personnel to replace the striking doctors as unrealistic, saying that such new doctors would not be able to offer the level of care that old hands provided.
“There is a limit to what new doctors can do and when they get to their limits, what would they do?'' he asked.
Odusote said that both the government and the doctors ought to be partners, rather than enemies in order to be able to move the business of health-care delivery forward and employers should also respect their employees to ensure productivity.
“We are the ones who have been calling for negotiation with the government and not the other way round.
“If the government is really concerned about the masses, then it should ensure that the matter is resolved without delay and normalcy is restored to the hospitals,'' the guild chairman said.
Odusote added that although the doctors were not happy with the loss of innocent lives in the hospitals as a result of the strike, the government should meet the demands of the doctors for them to return to work.
“Of course, as health-care providers, we cannot be happy that patients are dying, but we have resolved to hold out till the end.
“If the government wants to do something about the loss of innocent lives, they should immediately embrace dialogue and ensure that this matter is resolved so that we can save lives,'' he added.