News

Strike: LASUTH patients groan over denied treatment

…as work overwhelm consultants

 

As the indefinite strike declared by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) entered the seventh day today, a three-year old boy born without anus was among scores of patients at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja in Lagos, who were denied needed treatment last Friday. Majority of the out-patients affected by the strike were not attended to by doctors despite experiencing medical challenges requiring prompt care.

 

Some of the patients, who expressed their disappointment and pain for being caught up in the situation, however, lamented the uncertainty they faced due to the strike, saying there was no immediate hope of regaining their wellness, situations which exposed them to agony, discomfort, distress, even mortality and morbidity.

 

As a result of this,, the ‘Family Medicine Records’ area and the Medical Emergency units, which used to be a ‘beehive of activities’ were near deserted and completely devoid of the hustle and bustle of humans usually waiting to be called into doctors’ consulting rooms.

 

It would be recalled that NARD directed its members in all federal and state hospitals to embark on a nationwide indefinite strike from Monday, August 2, 2021 over the non- implementation of its demands, including welfare and others by the Federal Government.

 

The strike was called due to Federal Government’s inability to honour the agreement it signed with the association. Dr. Okhuaihesuyi Uyilawa, the president of NARD, said there are still irregularities in the payment of salaries to the house officers.

 

“We had issues with them being non-regular payment and as part of the MoU, it was said that they should be captured back into the Integrated Personnel and Payroll System (IPPS) platform.

 

“Some resident doctors have not received a salary for upwards of 19 months and next of kin of residents who died from COVID-19 were not paid insurance benefits.”

 

Investigations by the Sunday Telegraph on Friday revealed that as soon as any outpatient appeared at the ‘Family Medicine Records,’ seeking to see a doctor, the available staff at that unit, said, “You can’t see a doctor today; they are on strike.”

 

A woman, who brought her three-year-old son for a follow up treatment in LASUTH, but failed to get treatment for the boy, was completely devastated.

Coming all the way from Epe with her second and young child clasped on her back and without any knowledge about the ongoing strike, she had arrived as early as 8.30am.

 

When she was told that there are no doctors to see his son, she became very sad, agitated and disappointed. Narrating her ordeal to the Sunday Telegraph, she said: “When we left Ajah  this morning to go to Ikeja where LASUTH is located, I had no idea that doctors are on strike.”

 

She told the Sunday Telegraph that the ordeal of her son began at birth when he was delivered three years ago without an anus. “That was the condition that made a health facility in Ajah to refer him for specialist attention in LASUTH.”

 

Although, an initial surgery had been conducted before, creating an anus for him in LASUTH, “his doctors gave him the appointment of today, Friday August 6, to remove some gadgets in his body that facilitate the workings of the man-made anus.

 

“We came all the way from Ajah but we are told that doctors are on strike and that there’s nothing they can do to alleviate the pain my boy was going through.” While expressing her frustration, she lamented: “What’s the essence of going back home without doctors’ attention for my son?

 

He has been in pain. As a matter of fact, those gadgets in the body of my son were due to be removed. They’re causing him pain and discomfort.”

 

When the SundayTelegraph asked the woman what she will do in view of the situation, she said: “I don’t want to go home just like that; I will still hang around Children’s Ward; I may be fortunate to find a kind-hearted consultant, who may intervene in my son’s case,” considering that senior doctors in the cadre of consultants are working.”

Another mother with an ailing female child, 12, who was accosted, also told the Sunday Telegraph that she was told that doctors are on strike.

 

According to her, even her over 30-minute appeal to record staff, intimating them of her daughter’s severe stomach upset in the past two days fell on ‘deaf ears. They told her: “Madam, only few consultants are on duty, attending to critically ill patients. “Please come back whenever the striking doctors return to work.”

 

According to the mother of another nine-year old girl, who had been admitted into LASUTH since February, the Consultants attend to patients on admission.

 

The lady, said, her daughter fell from storey building and fractured one hand and leg and has been on treatment in LASUTH since the past seven months.

 

The woman said the condition of her daughter has improved tremendously but now left with only regaining the ability to walk, of which physiotherapists in the facility are doing a lot to achieve that.

 

She, however, disclosed that some patients on admission with very serious health challenges have been discharged because of the strike.

 

Moving round the hospital revealed that the premises of the tertiary hospital, which receives patients from Lagos, neighbouring states of Ogun, Oyo, Delta, among others and some West African countries: Togo, Benin Republic, appeared deserted.

 

Other sections without the usual hustle and bustle included the ‘Eye Clinic Patient Holding Area,’ the Medicine Department and Surgical Outpatient Department’ comprising the ENT Clinic; Department of Psychiatry; and the Department of Surgery.

 

However, at the Physiotherapy Department, the physiotherapy staff on ground said, “We are working provided you have the letter with which you were referred to this clinic.”

 

The President, Association of Resident Doctors (LASUTH-ARD), Dr. Itohan Oaku, said residents in the facility being part of the NARD, complied with the directive to down tools, hence, “we are currently on total strike. There are ongoing discussions at various levels whether Federal or state to resolve the strike.”

 

Concerning hospital operations inside the wards, she said the nurses and the medical consultants are working; hence, there may still be some minimal activities going on in the wards.

 

Speaking in a similar vein, the Chairman, Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) at LASUTH, Dr. Mumini Amisu, expressed the hope that the Federal and state governments would promptly address the issues so that a lot of mortality that may arise from the strike could be prevented.

 

On the part of the medical consultants who have intervened by attending to some patients, he said: “We are trying to ensure that emergencies, cases on admission that have not been discharged are stabilised, treated and followed up until they are fit to go home; of course, we are not superman but we always do our best to ensure mortality and morbidity are quite curtailed.”

 

While reacting to assertions that so many patients in the wards have been discharged due to the onset of the strike, Amisu said: “Those who are stable are discharged; unstable patients are still in the wards

 

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