As doctors in the employment of Lagos State Government continue their strike, which is in its third week, the state owned teaching hospital has remained nearly deserted. All the activities the hospital, popularly called LASUTH, is known for were lacking when our correspondent surveyed the premises. From the traffic that used to welcome visitors into the hospital, to the usually crowded lobbies at each of the wards, especially the ever busy Emergency Ward, the entire place was virtually deserted.
Most of the officials around refused to speak about the strike, perhaps for fear of being sacked like the 788 doctors currently at loggerheads with the state government. Others who managed to speak only spoke on the condition of anonymity.
When our correspondent visited the male surgical wards, a female member of the staff, who was off duty at the time but came to immunise her baby, said the nurses were trying to cope as much as possible without the doctors. Although like the others, she refused to give her name, she gave a fuller illustration of activities at the hospital.
She said, “When the strike began, all the patients that were critically ill were discharged. Others were asked to go to private hospitals. But there are some others that the nurses treat. Like those who have fractures, for instance, and had been attended to by the doctors before the strike began, some of them are still around. We know the drugs that have been prescribed for them. So, we just dress them up and administer the drugs. And when we run out of supply, we ask them to buy more. So far there has been no emergency case. Everyone knows there is strike; so, no one will bring an emergency case here until the strike is over.”
While the situation, at the Critical Care Unit and the Cardiac Neurosurgical Wards were the same, a nursing officer in front of the Medical Emergency unit of the hospital lamented the nurses plight saying it had been quite challenging.
She said, “Health is a team work. Like every part of the body that has a function, when one is missing it will tell on the others. We have been trying to cope on our own, but it is not the same. Just like if we the nurses decide to go on strike, the doctors will feel our absence. Now we don’t even have patients to attend to. There are only two patients in the whole of this ward. One is a member of our staff that we are treating for a slight illness and the other was brought in here this afternoon by LASAMBUS. We are trying to treat him on our own,” she said.
Most of the people around the premises are security officials, cleaners, medical representatives and some of the striking doctors who are said to come in from time to time but do not engage in any official activity.
Interestingly, despite the strike and the tense atmosphere, the hospital kitchen is still running. Our correspondent saw the kitchen staff bringing in groceries while others pushed trolleys about the corridor.
Meanwhile, the state government has, in a statement signed by the Head of Service, Mr. Adesegun Ogunlewe, on Monday announced that the striking doctors had been sacked following their refusal to answer queries to explain why they were absent from work without leave and without the due observance of the rules and regulations guiding strikes and industrial actions in the state’s public service.
About 316 of the doctors are from the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital while the remaining 472 came from other hospitals in the State. The doctors began the strike on April 24, after a three-day warning strike from April 11-13.
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