Patients groan as doctors strike cripples Lagos hospitals
By AZOMA CHIKWE,OGE OKONKWO and ONYEKACHI JET
Thursday, April 12, 2012

Patients seeking healthcare from Lagos State owned hospitals were thrown into anguish and helplessness yesterday as The Medical Guild began a three-day warning strike to protest non-implementation of Consolidated Medical Salary Scale (CONMESS).

Some patients, who called at the hospitals for treatment, not aware that the doctors were on strike were stranded while others already on admission were moved by relations to alternative health facilities notably federal hospitals in the state and private hospitals.

A woman, who spoke with Daily Sun at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, lamented that she brought her sick child for urgent medical attention at the hospital unaware of the strike. She cried” Where do I go from here?My child was referred to see a consultant paediatrician or an ear, nose and throat specialist here.I am shocked to see the hospital is grounded.What is going on?When will this kind of embarrassment and suffering stop in this country?How can doctors abandon their patients?It is terrible.”

All over the hospital, patients were seen in small clusters lamenting their plight while the hustle and bustle at wards disappeared as patients were abandoned by doctors while others had been moved by relations. Reports from other Lagos State-owned hospitals located all over the state recorded similar experience.Some hospitals, however were yet to join the strike as was witnessed at the Primary Health Centre at Itire/Ikate Local Government Development Area.

Meanwhile, the doctors who had a congress at the premises of LASUTH, yesterday morning blamed the government for the ugly development. Addressing journalists after the congress, Chairman, Medical Guild, Dr Olumuyiwa Odusote said the doctors would not return to work until their demands are met.He faulted certain taxation on doctors by government and said “the mandate is to change the template.” “This warning strike is an amplified shout from doctors to government to hear our voice and would be sustained by The Medical Guild till Saturday morning unless government implements her promises.”

He urged his colleagues to discharge stable patients and refer unstable ones to Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH). Reacting to the development, Lagos State Government described the strike as illegal, adding that it would invoke the Trade Dispute Act on doctors under its employment, who participate in the three-day industrial action.
Head of Service, Mr Adesegun Ogunlewe, in a statement said, “henceforth, the Act would be enforced in the state.Where any worker takes part in the strike, he shall not be entitled to any wages or other remunerations for the period of the strike,” he said.

The state government said the doctors issued one day notice before embarking on the strike, which it described as a blackmail as negitiations on the contentious issues were still ongoing.

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