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PATIENTS GROAN AS HEALTH WORKERS' STRIKE PERSISTS

By NBF News
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LAGOS  - Tougher times await patients seeking treatment at all Federal Government-owned health institutions as last minute effort by the Federal Ministry of Health and members of the Joint Health Sector Unions, JOHESU, to put an end to the ongoing strike called by the union met a stone wall.

Already, both in-patients and out-patients are bearing the full brunt of the action.

In most of the hospitals visited in Lagos, essential services were grounded as virtually all departments were under lock and key.   At the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, even the Accident and Emergency unit that is usually a beehive of activities was virtually deserted.

Vanguard investigation revealed that the strike which started yesterday was total in compliance in LUTH.  Patients whose cases were not very serious were discharged while others whose cases were more serious are being managed by consultants and house officers, doctors and ward aides. Relations of patients on admission were seen attending to their sick family members unlike in the past when such visitors were barred from the wards.

New patients were being turned back as hospital sources revealed that the institution was only trying to manage the few cases as best as possible.

Some of the patients who spoke to Vanguard told tales of woe and lamentation.  These patients may continue to lament for a long time as the meeting between the Federal Government and the Joint Union which started Wednesday in Abuja could not hold yesterday.

In a telephone chat with Vanguard, Acting National President of JOHESU, Comrade Felix  Fadarin, said after hours of meeting with officials of the Federal Ministry of Health, Wednesday, and the parties agreed to adjourn till the following day, yesterday, the team from the Federal Ministry of Health was not available for the meeting.

Vanguard gathered that the ministry officials claimed that the meeting could not hold because they could not  assemble the required team that would negotiate with the representatives of JOHESU.

Faniran called on the ministry to take urgent steps to meet the demands of the union, especially the withdrawal of the circular on non-skipping of CONHESS 10, the promotion of stagnated members and the abolition of discriminatory practices in the Health Sector in Nigeria.