By Chioma Obinna
IT was a sad day for hundreds of patients, who turned up for medical services at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, as they were turned back following the three-day warning strike embarked upon by medical doctors under the auspices of Association of Resident Doctors, LASUTH- ARD.
The medical doctors had last week threatened to embark on strike over the acute shortage of doctors and house officers in the hospital, claiming that the failure of the State government to replace exited ones is negatively impacting on their health and quality of medical services at the institution.
As early as 8:30 am when Vanguard arrived at the hospital, hundreds of patients who besieged the hospital as early as 5 am to keep their appointments with doctors including new patients were thrown into a state of confusion as record officers advised them to take new appointment dates. Several of these patients who came from various parts of Lagos including Ikorodu, Badagri, and Agbara were left unattended to.
From the General Out-patient-Department, GOPD, to other clinics including Urology, Gastronterolory, Echo departments visited, the patients were given new dates for their appointments. Many of the consulting rooms were empty while a few of them were manned by the Consultants who could not do much than to give new appointments.
However, among these patients was a dumb and deaf patient who could not understand the situation immediately but was helped by a kind-hearted staff in the record department who took his time to explain to the patient through sign language that, he needs to go home and come back after three days, precisely, Friday.
Some of the patients, who spoke to Vanguard, narrated their frustrations.
A trailer driver, who could not give his name for fear of victimization, told Vanguard that he was there to keep his appointment but was told the doctors had just started strike action.
According to him, he left his house in Agbara as early as 5:30 am only to be told to come back on the 11th of February.
The driver said: “I have been on this since last year after I was involved in an accident that affected my urinary tract. I no longer urinate normally.”
“I have been given a series of appointments. At a point, I was told that there were many patients waiting for surgery that they will call me in three months time but they never did. So two weeks ago, I came but was informed that the doctor that would carry out the surgery was on leave. They gave me another appointment for January 28 which is today.
“I came here only to find out that they are on strike. I have been given another date because of the on-going strike; I feel terribly frustrated and I don’t know when this surgery will be carried out. I am a trailer driver but I cannot drive anymore to avoid complications. I pray they call it off, he painfully narrated.
At the Urology Clinic, a long queue of patients was seen and most of them were elderly people. It was obvious they are sad as many of them were seen talking to themselves.
Blame govt for strike— LASUTH-ARD boss
Briefing journalists on the three-day total warning strike, President, LASUTH-ARD, Dr. Balogun Fatai, who boasted that his members complied 100 per cent, said the governor, AkinwunmiAmbode has failed to give approval for the employment of the resident doctors and house officers.
Stating that the problem was beyond the management of the hospital, he disclosed that although the hospital management had called for interview for some resident doctors by Thursday this week, it was not a guarantee that the resident doctors will be employed immediately.
Fatai said: “The interview does not mean a resumption of the resident doctors. When I did my own interview in November 2012, I resumed work in this hospital in August 2015, that is three years after. We have made several moves even discussed with the head of service, met with the Commissioner for Health, all they are saying is governor’s approval.
“Resident doctors form the workforce of any teaching hospital. If they are not there, you cannot see a teaching hospital work effectively. Some of the consultants are working but they can never work like resident doctors. Residents by their name supposed to be there for24 hours and seven days. If they are not there, there is little to what a consultant can do.”
Our consultants are working— LASUTH
Also, commenting, the Chairman, LASUTH MDCAN, Dr. Adekunle Adebayo, who confirmed that the consultants are working, said: “We are doing our job but we cannot do the job of resident doctors. We can go a little extra but we cannot fill in the gap because they are in training doing the bulk of the work. So what they are asking for is a legitimate thing, it is affecting our job too, so let the government attend to their demands.”
We’re taking steps—Lagos govt
Reacting to the development, the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr Titilayo said steps are being taken to employ new residents to ease the workload on the striking doctors.
She said: “They are not machines and we understand their issues and we are doing everything possible to end the problem.”