Strike Grounds Federal Hospitals, JOHESU Says Health Minister Insincere

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The nationwide strike called by the health workers’ union has taken a toll on federal health institutions across Nigeria and patients have been at the receiving end.

minister-for-health-prof-onyebuchi-chukwu-360x225Visits to some of the affected hospitals in the country on Friday, showed either skeletal work or a total collapse of activities.

For instance, business activities were grounded at the National Hospital, Abuja, on Friday, following the nationwide strike declared by the Joint Health Workers Union.

The development came as JOHESU accused the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu of insincerity.

The Minister stated that the Federal Government had appealed the ruling of Justice Babatunde Adejumo of the National Industrial Court on the 2012 Memorandum of Understanding, signed by government and the workers.

Investigations revealed that staff of NH complied with the strike and refused to go to work.

A source in the Hospital, however, told our correspondent that “some nurses were kept on standby in the Accident and Emergency Department in the interest of patients.”

The Spokesperson of NH, Dr. Tayo Haastrup, told Saturday PUNCH that arrangements had been made to take care of patients.

He said, “We have a reasonable number of patients that have not been discharged. Our doctors are working and they are managing them. The foreign doctors, House Officers, NYSC members are at work and interns are working.”

The Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba and the Federal Medical Centre, Ebute-metta, are two of the four major federal hospitals in Lagos that are affected.

The affected workers include nurses, pharmacists, laboratory technologists and other health workers, except medical doctors.

At LUTH, Saturday PUNCH observed empty lobbies and clinics with many in-patients already discharged, in the absence of the health workers.

Only the doctors and some locum cleaners were sighted in the wards.

A patient, who identified himself as Biodun, said his drugs had been coming about four hours late.

He said, “For example, the drugs we are meant to take in the morning by 9am don’t come until about 1pm and it’s because the nurses are on strike. Even when we are in pains and need to call a nurse, they are not there, so it’s the doctors that we have been calling on their lines.”

At the FMC, Ebute-metta, Saturday PUNCH learnt that all patients were discharged from the hospital, on Thursday.

Patients at the National Orthopaedic Hospital Enugu, on Friday said that the strike embarked on by health workers across the country was telling on their health condition.

They told our correspondents that their relatives and friends had been the ones dressing and caring for them since the health workers in the hospital joined the strike.

“The doctors here sometimes do the work of the nurses and laboratory assistants since the strike began,” said Chibuike Okeke, a patient at Male Ward III of the hospital.

He said, “It’s so terrible because my mother is the one who now removes the pipe I use in urinating since I have a broken leg and waist and can’t move from my bed.”

But a doctor at ESUTH, Dr. Christian Ochi, said the situation at the hospital is near resolved as a meeting has been held where it was agreed on that final medical students would be converted to nurses, and final year medical laboratory students would to laboratory assistants.

“This is the outcome of the meeting we held by 12 noon today Friday,” Ochi added.

At the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, services were virtually paralysed as all the health workers apart from doctors and security staffs were on duty.

Only skeletal services were being rendered by ad-hoc staff brought in to help the doctors, who were attending to patients on admission.

However, authorities of the University College Hospital, Ibadan, have said the hospital would not be completely shut down as a result of the ongoing strike.

After a 21-day ultimatum which ended on Wednesday, JOHESU sited the non-implementation of the MOU as one of its reasons for proceeding on strike along with other contentious issues such as the implementation of CONHESS 10, the National Health Bill and government’s failure to appoint health professionals as consultants.

Meanwhile JOHESU has reiterated that Chukwu should be held responsible for the inconveniences caused by the

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