Low Patient Turnout As Doctors Resume
Lagos State hospitals, yesterday, resumed normal activities following the suspension of doctors’ strike on Sunday.
However, patients’ turn-out at state-owned hospitals was still low in spite of the suspension of the 14-week-old strike and the subsequent return of normal activities to the hospitals; a situation that many attributed to lack of awareness on the part of the public.
Many patients were generally glad that the doctors were back at work, but not many of them were pleased with the state government’s handling of the crisis, blaming the government for allowing the industrial action extend for over three months.
The doctors’ resumption, meanwhile, is more or less tentative as the congress of the Medical Guild, an umbrella association for medical doctors on the payroll of the state government, may hold by the end of the week, if the state government fails to meet one of the agreements for suspending the strike. The strike was suspended based on the condition that the state government would pay withheld doctors’ salary by Friday, start to implement an agreed salary package by January, and review the sack of Ibrahim Olaifa, former Medical Guild chairman.
Idris Durojaiye, First Vice President, Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), LASUTH chapter defended the industrial action embarked on by the doctors, saying “it has been worth it.” “The strike has been worth it, but it feels very good coming back after the 14-week-old strike,” he said. “Because it’s an unusual situation to stay away from work, but we are happy to be back.” He, however, appealed to the state government “to resolve all the issues that could bring about any further strike because we don’t want any strike.”
In a related development, striking doctors at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Idi-Araba, a federal tertiary hospital in state, would resume work today after suspending their one week-old industrial action. The situation is, however, different for other health workers, who have vowed to continue with their strike, meaning the face-off between health workers and LUTH management over alleged irregularities and illegal deductions in paid salary arrears and teaching allowance, is far from over.
Yemi Raji, the hospital’s ARD president, said “the strike has been suspended and doctors will resume work 8 am on Monday. We are taking the management by its word to pay the money with November salary, and month-end is about a week from now, so we will what happens then.” However, Olugbenga Ajala, the Chairman, National Association of Nigerian Nurses (NANNM), LUTH Chapter, speaking after a protest march involving four other striking workers’ unions in the hospital premises, yesterday, said the affected unions will be meeting later in the week for further deliberation. “We are still on strike because there was no resolution at the meeting we had with the management last Friday,” he said. “We are still asking for the payment of CONHESS (Consolidated Health Workers Salary Scale) Teaching allowance arrears, which the management wants to pay to selected members of staff, whereas it should be paid to all members from Level 7 and above.”
Other protesting unions are: the Medical Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN); Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI); and the Non-Academic Staff Associated Institutions (NASU).