As a dispute between resident doctors and the management of the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba (FNPHY), Lagos, enters its fourth week, what is the fate of the institution’s patients?
Following the resolution reached at a congress which held on August 19, the Association of Resident Doctors at the FNPHY decided to continue the indefinite strike which began July 31.
According to the resident doctors, the sole reason for the strike is the shortage of resident doctors in the hospital.
They say that the shortage of resident doctors has led to a massive workload that has caused many doctors to leave the institution.
The plight of the resident doctors
Dr Azeez Enifeni, the President of Resident Doctors at the FNPHY ARD told Channels Television that the shortage of manpower has taken its toll on the doctors as well as the patients and their relatives.
The ARD President enunciated that resident doctors are doctors who have bagged the basic medical degree and are now working on a post-graduate degree, adding that these doctors are usually trained by hospitals where they attend to patients and seat for certain professional exams in the course of their stay which is often between five to six years.
Dr Enifeni stressed that the resident doctors do the bulk of the work, attending to patients on every clinic day.
He said, “In any teaching hospital, there is an average of one consultant to four resident doctors. In Yaba, we have about 22 to 23 consultants and the residents are 33; so we are having one consultant to maybe one and a quarter resident doctors which is grossly inadequate.
“Number two is, for the past four years, over forty doctors have left the system and only fifteen have been replaced, more units have been set up, more wards have been set up so over time the workload has increased but those who are the engine room of the clinical services which is the resident doctors have dwindled in numbers.
“Also the fact that on an average, in a week, because we have two arms of the hospital, we see over a thousand patients in the clinic spread among days. One of the reasons being that our clients don’t necessarily have mortalities like other specialities where people may die off, so we tend to kind of rollover, hence over a thousand a week in both arms of the hospital, that is plus emergencies which we see every day. We have the Oshodi Child and Adolescents and we also have an emergency hospital in Yaba, so the workload keeps increasing”.
Dr Enifeni went on to say that the resident doctors would have to bear the weight of work and the pressure of academics at the same time, a situation which he says many have not been able to balance appropriately.
“So you find a couple of doctors failing their professional exams and having to stay longer before they get certified,” he said.
Fate of the patients hang in the balance
The ARD President went further to speak about how the shortage of resident doctors and the ongoing strike is affecting the health of the patients.
He said, “Looking at the patients, our hospital is the foremost hospital in the Southwest, so we have a lot of people being referred to us; it’s a hospital of about 525 to 535 beds; we have the major facilities so you have different referrals even from sister hospitals.
“So you have patients coming in at about 5:30 am to 6:00 am, a lot of people leave their homes at about 4:30 am to get to the clinic very early and then they do not leave the hospital till about 5:30 pm because the major people who are doing the work, who are to see the patients in the clinic, are too few. You have a situation where one doctor sees about 60 patients in a day at the clinic, which is supposed to run from 9 am to 2 pm; but we run clinic till about 5 pm.
“A lot of them do not even eat before they come, not to talk of the rigours of sitting and waiting for the doctors. It is so bad that you have a lot of patients shouting on other patients, asking them not to complain to the doctors, not to do the primary thing which they have come to do, which is to complain. They shout because if a patient complains, then we will have a lengthy discussion. You need at least thirty minutes to say you have had a good clinic session and these resident doctors are to see sixty people.”