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Lagos University Teaching Hospital Locks Out Patients as Union Protests

It was a heartbreaking scenario as patients in critical condition at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital were locked out by management after Unions embarked on a peaceful protest.
Several patients at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba in Lagos were stranded yesterday as the three main entrance gates of the hospital were put under lock and key by the hospital’s management for several hours to frustrate a labour union’s protest rally.



The report stated that all the professional unions in LUTH, which were involved in the protest in the teaching hospital, have called on the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to intervene and investigate the allegations of steady decline of the hospital, resulting in poor care service provision, poor staff welfare, victimization of workers, and lack of basic working tools, among others.

Sadly, it was also reported that some of the patients in LUTH, who were receiving treatment in the hospital were locked outside for over two hours while many families were also denied the opportunity to visit their families and friends, as security officials stopped people from gaining entrance into the hospital for medical treatment.

Apart from the hospital’s gates being under lock and key, there was heavy presence of armed security personnel within and outside the hospital’s premises to prevent breakdown of law and order.

The sad incident forced patients to be stranded. An elderly woman who was brought into the teaching hospital in critical condition by her family for urgent attention, was prevented from gaining entrance into the hospital through the main gate.

After waiting for several minutes without any attempt by the security officials to open the main gate, the elderly woman was later rescued by some journalists and sympathisers, who put her in a Channels Television bus and assisted her to gain entrance into the hospital for emergency treatment through the College of Medicine gate, which is almost 200 meters to the LUTH gate.

“I am not the one who locked the gate. It is an instruction from the management and there is nothing we can do about it,” a security official said to exonerate himself from being blamed for locking the hospital gates despite several appeals to him to open the gates for patients who were rushed into the hospital for emergency cases.

The labour unions, under the aegis of Joint House Action of LUTH, which comprised the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), among others, held a protest rally within the hospital premises to demand a better deal from the hospital’s management.

Others are the Non- Academic Staff Unions of Universities (NASU), the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (MLSN), among others.

The aggrieved workers were also seen singing and carrying placards around the premises peacefully. Some of the placards read: “Federal Ministry of Health, pay us our teaching allowance,” “Stop stagnation,” “Nurses are professionals that should be respected and not treated as slaves.” “Is LUTH truly a public hospital?” “Pay our withheld salaries and allowances,” “Provide conducive working environment,” and “Put a stop to scale to scale promotion.”

After the protest, representatives of the unions in LUTH promptly delivered a letter, which highlighted their demand, to the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode in his office at the Lagos State Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja, where they urged him to assist transmit same to the Acting President for prompt action to prevent further loss of lives in LUTH.

Speaking to journalists, an anonymous victim, whose relative just gave birth in LUTH, took a swipe at the hospital management for being insensitive to the plight of the people, particularly by stopping people from gaining entrance into the hospital for treatment.

“This is uncalled for and it shows the insensitivity of our government.

"How can management of a teaching hospital lock the main gate of a government hospital and prevent people from gaining entrance to receive treatment? I have been here for several hours trying to see someone who was just delivered of a baby, but I was prevented from gaining entrance into the hospital.

"Government must do something urgent to address this ugly situation,” he said.

Meanwhile, addressing journalists on behalf of all the labour unions to express LUTH workers’ grievances and challenges relating to patients, staff and public, the chapter President of the Association of Resident Doctors Dr. Adebayo Sekumade, said the present state of LUTH was at variance with the overall policy thrust of the government in the health sector and the overarching wish of Nigerians for affordable, accessible and effective health care.

“Our call for action is all the more urgent because Prof. Christopher Bode’s position as the Chief Medical Director of LUTH is illegal as it contravenes the provisions of the public service rules, which stipulates a retirement age of 60 years for public office holders,” the labour unions stated.

“Presently, the intensive care unit (ICU), for critically ill patients in LUTH has broken down in the last two months and patients requiring these services were being sent away to seek care elsewhere,” Sekumade noted. According to a factional Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in Lagos, Dr. Olubunmi Omojowolo, workers in LUTH do not get their full salary.

“What they get is a fraction of their remuneration and all efforts to reverse this trend has not yielded result. Sometimes, they get about 60 per cent of their pay.” Speaking on the plight of LUTH workers, a Vice Chairman of NANNM, Mr. Stephen Olutola, said: “The CMD of LUTH, Prof. Christopher Bode and his management team are not sensitive to the things happening in the hospital. “Often, there is no water and lack of power supply hinders health care provision.”

The Chairman Medical Advisory Committee (CMAC), LUTH, Dr. Olufemi Fasanmade, said the claims of the unions were not true.

“There is no reason to victimise any staff,” he said. According to him, “What is being referred to is the implementation of the ‘no work no pay’ policy which was applied to staff who went on strike for weeks. This is a policy which has put an end to prolonged strikes which bedevilled the health sector up 2016,” he said. On claims of no working tools, Fasanmade said LUTH has steadily invested in phased replacement of old and decaying infrastructures.
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