6 March 2014

Nigeria: National Hospital Abuja Deserted Due to Strike

The usually busy National Hospital Abuja was on Wednesday a shadow of itself as the strike embarked upon by some of its workers entered its seventh day.

Some members of the hospital staff went on strike on February 27 following the management's refusal to implement the Consolidated Health Salary Structure, CONHESS.

A correspondent, who visited the hospital, reports that doctors were on hand attending to patients but there were only a few out-patients in the wards.

Frank Nwanodu, President of the Association of Resident Doctors, National Hospital, confirmed that doctors were attending to patients who came to the hospital.

Mr. Nwanodu said that the doctors did not join the strike in the interest of the patients, though they were also affected by the issues that led to the strike.

"We are not on strike and the reason is that our patients matter most to us and if doctors go on strike what (will) happen to the patients on ground.

"So presently we are not on strike but the truth is that the hospital may not be running in full capacity."

A patient, Chidinma Okafor, said she brought her baby for check-up but was asked to come back in two weeks.

"There was nobody to get my file since the workers are on strike, so I was asked to come back in two weeks. Maybe by then, the strike will be over.

"I do not know the cause of the strike but I pray the management answers them; the patients are the ones suffering."

A worker at the laboratory, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that he was attending to patients who came with their receipts to collect their test results.

"I am doing this out of human sympathy, though there is a strike; I feel sorry for these patients."

The issues in contention include failure of management to implement the condition of service for staff of the hospital.

The striking staff members also claim that they are being denied their statutory benefits as provided for in the public service rule.

The health workers involved in the strike are the members of the Abuja chapters of National Hospital Senior Staff Association and the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria.

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