The industrial action to take up by the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), took a toll on patients yesterday.
Many patients were ejected from hospitals across the country as the doctors stayed away.
NARD began the indefinite strike yesterday.
The National President, Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, announced the strike on Saturday in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, at the end of the association’s National Executive Council meeting.
He cited the Federal Government’s failure to implement the agreements it entered with the union 113 days after it suspended the previous strike.
Okhuaihesuyi also blamed the poor working conditions in public hospitals, irregular payment of doctors’ salaries and hazard allowances of N5,000 monthly, which was reviewed last in 1991.
According to him, NARD members were yet to be enrolled in the integrated personal payroll information systems meant to prevent salary shortfalls due to an embargo from the Head of Service of Federation.
The association said only one of 19 families of doctors who died while treating COVID-19 patients had received their death-in-service insurance.
He accused Minister of Health, Dr Ehanire Osagie and Minister of Labour and Employment Dr Chris Ngige, of not keeping their words.
Our correspondents monitored government hospitals across the country and report that lives are being put at risk with the strike.
Edo, Enugu, Lagos
Resident doctors at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) and the Central Hospital, owned by Edo State Government, both in Benin, the state capital, called on the Federal Government to quickly meet NARD’s demands.
Some family members were making arrangements to relocate their relatives to private hospitals.
In Enugu, Patients who trooped to the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital ) UNTH) and the National Orthopedic Hospital Enugu (NOHE) to keep to their appointments were turned back.
The majority of the medical doctors in the two hospitals had complied with the strike.
Our correspondent, who visited the two hospitals, noticed that only consultants and nurses were manning the wards.
While new patients said they were directed to other facilities, some of the existing patients said they were asked to come back next week in the event of the doctors calling off the strike.
Emergency cases were however attended to by the consultants, doctors on the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and nurses on duty.
NARD President in the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Dr Hassan Jimoh said: “The strike started 8 am today (yesterday). Usually, on the first day of the strike, patients will be handed to the consultants because they own the patients.
“Wards, clinics and emergency sections are deserted which will get worse as the day goes by. This strike is total and indefinite which means all services provided by resident doctors will not be available.”
President of the association in the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Dr Aladejare Samuel, decried the non-payment of their salaries and entitlements.
Ogun, Katsina, Anambra
The Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, was discharging patients; new ones were turned back.
Resident doctors in Katsina withdrew their services.
A leading member of the association at the Federal Medical Center, Katsina, Dr Bola Kale, said: “We have already withdrawn our services and won’t call it off except if there is a directive to that effect from our national headquarters.”
The action paralysed activities at the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital (COOUTH) and the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH), Nnewi.
NARD President at NAUTH, Dr Golibe Ikpeze, said the striking doctors had already left clinical services for consultants and others who are not members of the NARD.
“We have complained to make sure that these issues are resolved but they are still there and nobody is doing anything about them,” he said.
Delta, Bayelsa, Imo
Resident doctors at the Delta State University Teaching Hospital (DELSUTH), Oghara, Ethiope West council area, joined in the strike.
Their president, Dr Rukevwe Odukuye, said consultants have taken charge of the hospital.
At the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba, patients left frustrated.
There were skeletal medical services by some consultants at Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Yenagoa.
The President, NARD, FMC chapter, Dr Divine Irole, said: “No doctor is working. It is only consultants that are the ones attending to patients.”
There were queues at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Owerri of patients waiting to be attended to.
The hospital’s spokesman, Dr. Josy Achonu, said the few consultants and paramedics were attending to the patients.
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