With the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital (ATBUTH), Bauchi, participating in the nation-wide strike action by the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU), the hospital’s patients are at a loss about their options.
JOHESU is downing tools over the failure of the Federal Government to meet the demands of workers in the healthcare union.
It was patients, however, who were at an immediate disadvantage over the standoff between government and union, with some at ATBU premises lamenting the situation.
When Daily Correspondent visited the hospital on Thursday, patients were seen leaving the premises with gloomy faces.
Those who spoke with our correspondent lamented that some of them had been forced to go to the State Specialist Hospital, or private clinics, for medical treatment even though the latter is expensive while the former is always overcrowded.
They called on JOHESU to consider the plight of patients and call off the strike to save lives.
They feared that patients in critical condition may die if the strike persists because most of them cannot afford treatment in private clinics.
The Chief Medical Director of ATBUTH, Dr Mohammed Alkali, explained to journalists that, although the hospital had joined the strike, some health workers are still rendering services to patients, especially those at the emergency ward.
Alkali, represented by the Deputy Chairman Medical Advisory Committee, Dr Sabiu Abdu Gwallabe, added that, though the premises of the hospital is quiet due to the strike, some units such Maternity, Special Medical, Paediatrics, were rendering services to patients.
“Some staff, like temporary staff and NYSC members, are not part of JOHESU, so they are all on ground to attend to patients.
“The situation is unfortunate and we want patients to bear with us as the strike was called by our national leaders, and we must comply with their directives,” Alkali said.
The Chairman JOHESU, Bauchi state, Ibrahim Maikudi, said that the chapter was in total compliance with the indefinite strike action, despite efforts by the national body to enter an agreement with the Federal Government.
Maikudi lamented that despite consultations with stakeholders in the 36 states, including FCT Abuja, the Federal Government failed to honour the agreement.
He said the chapter was awaiting further instructions from the national body, adding that if nothing is done state hospitals would have no choice but to also join the strike.
Health worker union JOHESU embarked on the latest strike to demand an upward adjustment of the Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) arrears, employment of additional health professionals, implementation of court judgement, and upward review of the retirement age from 60 to 65 years.