- Three dead, 10 injured in gas explosion
The industrial action embarked upon by the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, LUTH Chapter on the June 10, 2016 may further linger, not because the nurses want it, but rather because the LUTH management is indicated to be threatening the job security of the Union leaders, rather than finding peace.
Investigation by the Maritime First showed that while the management of affiliated institutions have amicably resolved with their unions/ workers, LUTH has adamantly stuck to its guns, refusing either to negotiate with the embattled nurses nor, address any of the grievances, which include stagnation on same job position for over 9 years, or making available, basic sanitary items needed by nurses to work.
For instance, it was learnt that the nurses before the current strike action were already used to administering treatment, including injections with the aid of their gsm handset torchlight, once NEPA took light, because it was either LUTH’s generators were down; or management would not provide diesel.
One of the over 520 patients forcefully discharged as a result of the strike action confirmed to the Maritime First that several times he had been treated in the dark, except for the nurse’s handset torchlight, stressing the need for President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the management.
“Forget the name, LUTH is no longer what it used to be. Let alone, what it ought to be”, the discharged patient indicated, stressing that he would have long left the hospital, but for the fact that he couldn’t afford something better.
Ironically, one of LUTH’s nurses, it was further confirmed by the nurses Union, on one of such nights, actually fell and sustained fracture; and had to be hospitalized for three month.
A nurse who spoke on condition of anonymity affirmed the lack of common basic items such as gloves, syringes and needles, gauze and wash hands before and after attending to patients, stressing that Nurses had been using their personal money to buy some of these materials, including even ordinary plain sheet, as well as making photocopies of hospital stationaries for continuation sheet and treatment/prescription sheets.
“The entire store is empty. Common thermometer, you can not find in the hospital”,she stated further, stressing that nurses as patients’ advocates have complained several times to the management about the embarrassingly empty store to no avail, even as patients pay for these unavailable consumable weekly.
“We embarked on strike when we became tired of giving false explanation to relatives of patients, as this had led to misunderstanding and hot violent verbal exchange between Nurses and patients’ families in the past”, she highlighted further, explaining that it is now a common sight to see nurses rolling giant oxygen cylinders from one patient to the other.
A Maritime First correspondent who visited the LUTH met the usually bustling hospital looking deserted and ghostly, before seeking out one of the Union leaders, Mrs Adelaja who ironically confirmed our findings.
“We are just making do with what is available at our disposal. We are doing everything humanly possible at personal cost to put smiles on our patients and students in training.
“We are not provided with enabling environment to practice real nursing according to set standards. We daily toil, carry touch lights on our heads, improvise almost everything so as to help and care for our patients and make our impact felt; yet we are suppressed and marginalized.
“As we use our personal money for these consumables so also to make official calls to doctors on call and other department in the hospital, some senior registrars and consultants are given recharged handsets to make calls which are fully paid for by the hospital. Our legitimate demands or allowances are denied”, she noted further, explaining that the crux of the current brouhaha was not unconnected with a clear case of Promotion- Stagnation of Nurses.
“There is a popular saying: “Hope delayed wearies the heart”. This has become a practical reality with the management of LUTH, with regards to our members. Nurses are stagnated on a post between 6 and 12 years (applies to various cadres) even without any misconduct.
“The management also denied some of our colleagues of their deserved promotion from CONHESS 12 – 13 (ACNO – CNO) contrary to both the scheme of service and the NICN judgement on SKIPPING.
“It is unfortunate and unbelievable that the management in their publication could state we did not embrace dialogue while on many occasions letters written to the management were not acknowledged and meetings were aborted due to insensitivity of the management to the plight of Nurses.
“The LUTH NANNM leadership had met with the management physically and in writing to dialogue and pleaded with them to uphold the provision of scheme of service and National Industrial Court of Nigeria judgement but to no avail.
“There were letters written. Look at these ones dated 18/01/2016, 21/01/2016, 22/02/2016 and 08/03/2016 all before the State leadership of our Association took up the matter and had correspondences and meetings with the management; followed by the last ultimatum of seven days that forced the Union to embark on this strike simply because the management still emained adamant”, she explained further, while emphasizing that the Nurses employed in June 2015 are presently being owned six months’ salary/allowances.
“They have embarked on propaganda to discredit us. But, failed to tell us why is it that it is only the LUTH Nurses among other Federal Health Institutions that are not being paid teaching allowances since 2014, while other hospitals are paying till date through same IPPIS.
“It may interest you to note that it is the template provided by LUTH that the IPPIS works and pay with. This management should stop shifting task and own up.
“The management in her wisdom decided to pay teaching allowance to other categories of staff EXCLUDING NURSES. The CMAC in LUTH official social media on 28/05/2016 said and I quote “NO LUTH NURSE IS TO BE PAID TEACHING ALLOWANCE ANYMORE BY ORDER FROM ABOVE, probably the Abuja Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH)”, she concluded.
Perhaps, it was this directive that actually acted as the straw that broke the camel’s back, as the infuriated Nurses, being so pushed to the wall decided that rather than go to Abuja to lobby and beg for the re-instatement of the allowances, decidedly, embarked on the current strike, a development which has resulted in the death of several innocent poor Nigerians.
The LUTH Public Relations Officer, Mr Otuneme however waved off the allegations by the nurses, saying they were propaganda being employed by the embattled nurses to attract public sympathy.
“These allegations are not true”, he insisted, highlighting that the hospital is still rendering basic services by it’s doctors, pharmacists and others, adding that the notion of threat to nurses jobs was also unfounded. He however confirmed that the Chief Medical Director was not able to attend the two reconciliation meetings held in the past to restore peace between management and the nurses, blaming the conspicuous absence on meetings in Abuja, coincidentally called for days scheduled for meetings in Lagos. (Details later).
In the meantime, a survivor of a fire, which resulted from gas cylinder explosion, Juliet Chimobi, has said she escaped death because she refused to enter the house after the explosion.
Three persons were killed and 10 injured in the incident, which occurred about 7am on Sunday at 32, Osazuwa Street, off Benin-Agbor Expressway.
Two siblings, Favour Godwin, 11 and Odion Godwin, two, were among those who died.
Juliet told reporters that the cylinder fell inside a neighbour’s apartment, Steven Ebo and exploded.
She said: “When the incident occurred everybody ran out of the house. They went in later with a warning that nobody should light a match.
“At that point, I refused to move in with my neighbours. But before I knew it, they ran out again shouting fire, fire, fire.
“I thereafter discovered that one of our neighbours, who was cooking in his apartment, opened his door, which ignited the gas.
“The victims attempted to escape through the exit door, but it did not open.”
Additional report from Nation