Patients Appeal for Quick Resolution as Doctors’ Strike Continues
As the National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, strike enters its second day, patients have appealed for a quick resolution to the impasse between the doctors and the Federal Government.
The patients spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos.
They complained that incessant strikes were worrisome as they impeded access to healthcare services and healthy lives.
A NAN check at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, showed that the strike affected clinical services as resident doctors were not involved in delivering healthcare service.
Consultants, nurses and other health professionals, including pharmacists, laboratory scientists, as well as some house officers were seen managing the situation at the hospital.
Mr Adeyemi Aluko, a patient, said that all stakeholders involved in health provision should shelve their differences and chart a way forward to address the systemic challenges facing the sector.
“Nigeria’s health care system is in crisis. I was referred to LASUTH from a private hospital for further treatment; however, I couldn’t see a doctor.
“They rescheduled my appointment to the next two weeks. Hopefully, issues that necessitated the strike would have been amicably solved so that we can have unhindered access to healthcare services,’’ he said.
Similarly, Mrs Deborah Njoku said the strike had disrupted her son’s treatment, saying she was contemplating the option of seeking treatment at a private hospital.
According to her, no doctor attended to him at the ward since the strike began, as her child had only been examined by a few senior nurses.
“I’m not comfortable with the situation because the health workers are overwhelmed; it’s just a few of them attending to lots of patients.
“Asides that, if the issues that warranted the strikes are not resolved, the doctors might call for another strike. I don’t want to risk my child’s health with this drama,” she complained.
NAN reports that NARD had called on its members nationwide to proceed on a five-day warning strike beginning from May 17, to May 21.
Some of the demands by NARD are a 200 per cent review of their Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) and payment of the 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF).
It also wants the issuance of a circular by the House of Representatives jettisoning the bill seeking to stop doctors from leaving the country without a mandatory five-year service period.
Dr Salmon Abeeb, President, LASUTH-ARD, said the chapter had ensured 100 per cent compliance with the strike directive of its national body.
Abeeb noted that LASUTH-ARD had some local demands from the Lagos State Government, asides the demands of the national body.
He appealed to the State government to implement payment of increment and arrears of hazard allowance after over two years of agreement.
Abeeb also called for the payment of the medical residency training fund (MRTF) and a fast track of the completion of the residential quarters for resident doctors.
He noted that many resident doctors were experiencing burn-out from the pressure of commuting long distances in traffic to and fro work daily, saying this portends danger to the doctors and their patients.
Similarly, Dr Fatai Balogun, Publicity Secretary, Medical Guild, Lagos, said that NARD demands were germane and some long overdue.
Balogun appealed to the government to urgently respond to them to avoid an unnecessary collateral effect on the populace.
He said that locally, discussions were on-going with stakeholders about peculiar local issues of concern, with regards to Lagos doctors.
“Consultants are to do as much as they have always done in caring for their patients. That they will continue to do as they are not on strike.
“They cannot and do not intend to take the role of the residents. It’s not even possible,” he said.