Anxiety as Lagos doctors begin indefinite strike
DOCTORS in Lagos State-owned hospitals will today begin another round of indefinite strike to protest alleged non-payment of their salary arrears by government.
The information, pasted on the notice boards of some wards in the hospitals yesterday afternoon, created tension among patients and their relatives.
When The Guardian visited the Medical Emergency Section of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, some fairly stable patients were already planning to exit the hospital.
It was gathered that the strike became inevitable after Governor Babatunde Fashola allegedly shunned the doctors’ proposal for dialogue at the weekend.
The Lagos doctors, under the aegis of Medical Guild, are insisting on unpaid salaries for the months of May 2012, as well as July, August and September 2014, during which they were on strike.
The government on the other hand, argued that the doctors did not work for the months, and by the “no work, no pay rule”, the government is not owing them.
The state branch of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), had, in a letter to the state government, dated March 6, 2015, informed Governor Fashola of the planned strike beginning from Monday, March 16, 2015, should the salaries remain unpaid.
Secretary of the Lagos NMA, Dr. Babajide Saheed, told The Guardian yesterday that the doctors had resolved to down tools from today, since all efforts to prevent another industrial action had proved abortive. Saheed noted that the NMA realised the grave implication of any strike in Lagos State and the effect it would have on the neighbouring states.
He said it was on this ground that the national president of the NMA, among others, visited the Commissioner for Health last Friday to reach a truce.
Efforts to meet with the governor was however thwarted “because the governor was angry and would not talk to the doctors.” “We (doctors) considered it an insult on our president. This is a delegation that came all the way from Abuja just to ensure we do not have another strike.
It shows how much of respect the governor has for us and it is quite unfortunate,” Saheed said. He added that the strike means withdrawal of all services, including planned surgeries from LASUTH and General Hospitals in the state, except for emergency cases and treatment of the critically ill. And should the strike last more than a week, all the other public hospitals (Federal Government -owned) would join in sympathy and solidarity with their colleagues.
Relative of a patient currently at the medical emergency section told The Guardian that some of the doctors had informed their patients of the strike. Abimbola Olatunji said her family members were unhappy with the strike, because it would return her husband to the danger list.
Olatunji explained that her husband was referred to LASUTH when his prostate case worsened last month. Though the patient had been in stable condition in the last few days, the family is worried about what could happen should their be a relapse due to lack of medical attention during the strike.
Olatunji who appealed to the state government to pay the doctors expressed fear that lives would be lost daily without the doctors to attend to the sick.