Patients ‘besiege’ private hospitals

The strike embarked upon by health workers in three premier health institutions in Imo State  has resulted to a near shut down of the health sector in the State.

The series of industrial disputes in government establishments, however, have led to a surge of patients in private hospitals.

At the same time workers at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri, Imo Specialist Hospital, Owerri and the Imo State University Teaching Hospital (IMSUTH), Orlu embarked on strike for several reasons bordering on staff welfare and salaries.

A visit to Imo Specialist Hospital at Umuguma, New Owerri, revealed that patients are being evacuated from the hospital by their relations as doctors and nurses are not attending to them.

“They have stopped giving my husband drugs. I am waiting for my son to come and take us away from here. I’ve called him. I don’t want my husband to die,” a distraught  woman who gave her name as Mrs Njoku told our reporter.

Workers at the hospital complained that they have not been paid for four months, blaming the situation on the concessioning of the hospital to a private medical practitioner.

They accused the doctor of withholding the salaries.

Reacting to the accusations, their Medical practitioner, Dr Amaechi had denied withholding the workers’ salaries.

He also debunked the concessioning by the state government, saying that he was only called upon to make the hospital profitable and help in better management of the outfit which was formerly General Hospital, Owerri but re-named Imo Specialist Hospital by the Gov Rochas Anayo Okorocha administration.

However, health workers at FMC Owerri called off their strike on Thursday.

The strike, which was nationwide was to protest a recent policy concerning elevation of workers who are on the consolidated health workers’ salary scale.

The policy had stated the they would no longer jump the Grade 11 on the scale, from 10 to 12 which has been the practice.

It was not immediately known whether the government agreed to allow the status quo.

At IMSUTH, Orlu, medical doctors laid down their stethoscope  on Wednesday for the second time in six weeks while other workers are flexing muscles with the government over unfulfilled agreements.

Some workers who spoke to Christian Voice claimed that they have not been paid since three months. Sources said that the constant industrial disputes in the institution, coupled with the bad access roads  to the State’s premier hospital had affected revenue generation of the hospital as the subventions from government can no longer carry the salary bill.

A security man who did not mention his name frowned at the harassment of JAC Chairman, Mr B. Okere, by a government official who, he said, sometimes sends policemen to arrest the labour leader.

He sighed, saying that the workers were fighting for their legitimate rights.