By NATH OMAME
A NATIONWIDE strike embarked upon by the Joint Health Workers Union, JOHESU, has crippled medical activities at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, UPTH. Patients seeking medical attention are being redirected to other hospitals. Only medical doctors were seen attending to some patients.
Most wards, offices and departments, including the accident and emergency wards were empty as nurses, cleaners and other medical workers were not available to attend to patients. An operative of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, Sergeant Gift Okoroma, who sustained life-threatening gunshot wound during a shoot-out with operatives of SARS, Monday, at Rumuohoudi community, Emohua Local Government Area, was left writhing in pains, unattended to for about 20 minutes.
It took the pleading of his colleagues who had rushed him to the hospital before some doctors attended to him. The national leadership of JEHOSU, had, on Thursday, last week, directed all its state branches to comply with the directive from the national headquarters to embark on an indefinite strike to protest unpaid arrears to its members.
Patients who were not aware of the strike action were seen stranded at the hospital. Families of patients with critical medical cases requiring surgical operation were seen rescheduling their appointments at the UPTH.
A lady said her have been bleeding for about two days express worry that she has been left unattended to because nurses were on strike. Another young man lamented that his father whose condition is critical has also not been attended to because of the strike action.
Chairman of JOHESU, in UPTH, Christian Awebi, told The Oracle Today, in Port Harcourt, that the strike would continue until the federal government meets the demands of the striking workers. “Our salaries and allowance have not been paid. I can tell you that some of our members in UPTH are been old owed backlog of areas for the past 16 years.”
“Our members in UPTH who were promoted since 2011 are still earning the salaries that they were earning in 2011 before they were promoted. There are staffs in UPTH that have been on the same salary for 16 years.”
“Those of them who sat and passed promotion examinations interviews for the post of directors since 2011 are still on the same salaries they were before they were promoted. It is an aberration. It is an embarrassment. And this cannot be allowed to continue.”
The federal government is expected to enter into negotiation with the leadership of JEHOSU, on Wednesday, at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.