FG, NARD meets todayNigerians should sue govt hospitals — OSANYINBy Sola Ogundipe & Gabriel Olawale
Patients have continued to bear the brunt of the strike called by the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, the body of medical doctors that constitute 70 percent of doctors in government and state-owned hospitals in Nigeria.
As the strike entered the eighth day yesterday, public hospitals that are normally beehive of activities have become a ghost town.
In Lagos, doctors in the state government hospitals are in total compliance with the directive of the national NARD to join the ongoing strike.
When Vanguard visited some of the affected hospitals in Lagos on Thursday, the wards were scantily occupied by patients, who were being attended to by consultants, nurses, and midwives.
It was gathered that majority of the patients with pressing health issues had either been discharged or discharged themselves to explore alternative care.
At the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH; Federal Medical Hospital Ebute Metta, National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos, NOHL, and Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, new patients were not being admitted except in emergency cases.
A female patient who was accosted by our reporter at LUTH lamented that she had been booked for surgery before the strike.
“I am supposed to undergo surgery, today is my appointment, unfortunately, this strike has affected everything and my health is worsening every day. I don’t have money to go a private hospital and I am confused,” she explained.
The patient who identified herself as Mrs. Joan Ebuka, said she had come from Ogun State to seek quality healthcare at the LUTH, but her hopes had been shattered.
“I was told to revisit the hospital whenever the strike is called off. The question on my mind is when?”
Another patient, Mr Olakunle Ibukun tearfully recounted how his 7-year- old daughter who was in pain could not receive the required urgent attention.
“My daughter is dying. I hope the strike is called off soon so that they will see my daughter. Our health system is already weak and embarking on strike will only make it worse for poor people like us. I am appealing to the government to negotiate with the workers so that we can be attended to.”
Even though the consultants and nurses were seen attending to patients, the absence of the resident doctors was telling. Up till the mid-afternoon, a number of patients were still loitering around hoping to be attended to.
At the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, and the Federal Medical Centre, Ebute Metta, both in Lagos, a similar scenario prevailed.
Ade Adedayo who was at the hospital to consult with a doctor over a joint dislocation, appealed for the speedy resolution of the issues at stake.
“I am sure many people have died because of this strike. Why is our government doing this? Let them answer them because am feeling pain,” he remarked.
FG, NARD meets today
Meanwhile, hopes of a speedy resolution of the strike appear to have emerged as the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige has invited the NARD to an emergency meeting today.
A letter addressed to the National President of the NARD, through the Minister Special Adviser (technical), Mrs. C.C. Dike, dated April 8, 2021, called for a meeting between the parties in the office of the minister at 3.00 pm.
“I am directed to invite you to an emergency meeting between the leadership of the National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, and the relevant representatives of the Federal Government of Nigeria for further discussions on the current issues in dispute.
The meeting is scheduled to hold as following, Friday, April 9, 2021. Time is 3.00 pm and the venue is Conference Room of the Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Federal Secretariat Complex, Phase 1, Abuja.”
Nigerians should sue govt hospitals — OSANYIN
The first and only African on the Board of Governors of the World Association for Medical Law, Barrister Olaolu Osanyin has expressed displeasure over the ongoing strike embarked upon by the NARD.
Osanyin, a medical lawyer with over 15 years of experience said that it is high time patients begin to institute legal action against the government and any health institutions that embark on strike.
While admitting that it is the right of doctors to go on strike after notifying the hospital, he argued that it’s also the duty of the hospital management to ensure that patients do not suffer in the course of their negotiation with health workers.
In an exclusive interview with Vanguard, Osanyin said that if all federal medical centres and teaching hospitals in the country are being sued in their capacity, the government will take the issue of negotiation with health workers seriously.
“The right to engage in industrial action is one of the rights of any workers all over the world. The only thing is that before you proceed on strike, you need to give adequate notice.
“In this case, it is resident doctors that are on strike not entire hospital but they constitute a larger per cent of doctors.
“The resident doctors have already played safe by way of notify the general public that they are going on strike, that people can seek healthcare elsewhere. But ultimately, I believe it’s high time patients need to exercise their right more.
“If I registered my father in the hospital and the hospital goes on strike, in my capacity I should be able to institute legal action.
“If different patients across the country sue their respective federal government-owned hospitals management I believe the government will take the issue of negotiation with health workers seriously.”
Osanyin noted that when the government hospitals are being sued for hundreds of millions of naira, the government would get a lot of financial exposure, and would take the issue of negotiation seriously and avert unnecessary strikes.
“If I sue the Federal Medical Centre Ebute-Metta N500 million another person sues Gwagwalada Teaching Hospital N1billion, another person in Kebbi sues for N500 million, if it goes like that all over the country they need to get lawyers for defense, then they will understand that they have exposure of about N7 billion.
“Let us file action all over the country, let the Ministry of Justice be sending lawyers up and down, why will the Federal government sign agreement they know they are not going to honour?
It’s high time for the patient needs to save doctors.
They need to speak with one voice to save the situation by filing an action against federal government hospitals.
Vanguard News Nigeria
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