AS the National Association of Resident Doctors’ (NARD) five-day warning strike enters third day on Friday, hospitals have had to make adjustments to their schedules to accommodate as many patients as possible.
A News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondent who visited Federal Medical Centre, Jabi, Abuja, found that patients were still being attended to even though there were few patients.
Nurses were seen at their posts, while the various departments were also attending to patients as best as they could.
Speaking about the measures employed to cushion the effect of the absence of the resident doctors, the Head of Clinical Services, Dr Joseph Eziechila, said that though service delivery was not as it should be, the hospital would not shut down.
He added that the management of the hospital had to think out of the box to keep the facility running.
“We had to think out of the box on how to maintain services. Resident doctors are the bedrock of healthcare delivery because they are more in number.
“Here, we have close to 100 consultants but the resident doctors, youth corps members and others will number like 350, so they are the main workforce.
“When patients visit the hospital, they are the first point of call before you contact the consultants if there are issues.
“However, what we did in this case is that we have some youth corps doctors and we still have a few locum doctors, we have house officers that are not part of the strike and we have principal medical officers.
“So, as much as we can, we try to make use of these people to keep services, the emergencies running and some other points of service delivery so that the hospital is not completely shut down.”
He said that the situation had caused the consultants to do some extra work.
He added that “though it is a short strike, we have to mobilise all the consultants. In the outpatient clinic, we have to mobilise all the consultants to work outside their normal schedule.
“If you get there now, we have like four of the consultants at the same time, the consultants running the specialist clinic also run their clinic on their own.
“Where it becomes a problem is if the strike is prolonged; but I had to call a meeting with the departments to appeal to them to go the extra mile for this very short time.”
Ezeichila, however, said that the hospital did not have an influx of patients as before, adding that news of the strike automatically reduces the high rate of hospital visits by patients.
According to him, as soon as patients hear that doctors are on strike, they rather stay back, not knowing that measures have been put in place to ensure that they are attended to.
A visit to Maitama District Hospital, Abuja, also revealed that patients were being attended to.
Though the number of patients had reduced, a handful were seen accessing care.
Some of them who spoke to NAN on condition of anonymity said they were surprised that doctors were on ground to attend to them.
One of them also told NAN that the absence of patients in the hospital made services faster than usual.
NAN reports that NARD served a letter of warning strike to the Federal government on Tuesday, saying it could not guarantee further industrial harmony should government fail to address issues raised before May 29.
The NARD letter entitled: “Notice of Strike Action’’ was jointly signed by its National President, Dr Innocent Orji and Secretary-General, Dr Chikezie Kelechi.
In the letter, the association issued a two-week ultimatum to the Federal Government to resolve issues as contained in the ultimatum before its expiration on May 13.
The Tuesday letter read in part: “regrettably, the issues have remained unresolved, despite several attempts by NARD to get government to resolve them.
“Rising from her Extra-Ordinary Meeting on Monday, May 15, NARD’s National Executive Council resolved to embark on a five-day warning strike beginning on May 17.’’
The doctors are demanding an immediate increment in the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure to the tune of 200 per cent of current gross salaries of doctors.
NARD is also demanding the immediate withdrawal of the Bill seeking to compel medical and dental graduates to serve compulsorily in Nigeria for five years before getting full licences to practise.
It also wants immediate domestication of the Medical Residency Training Act and review of Hazard Allowance by state governments.
The five-day warning strike which started on Wednesday ended on Friday. (NAN)
T.STags: Dr Chikezie Kelechi. Dr Innocent Orji and Secretary-General National Association of Resident Doctors’ (NARD) national president