Healthcare services were grounded, yesterday, following an indefinite strike by members of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital Branch of the Association of Resident Doctors, LUTH-ARD, over alleged excessive taxation by the hospital.
The new tax law which took effect at LUTH since August this year is said to be the directive of the Joint Tax Board of the Federal Government.
A visit to the hospital showed a crisis situation. The Accident and Emergency Department of the hospital known to be a beehive of activities was a shadow of itself even as new patients were denied admission. Almost all the wards in the hospital were empty.
Further investigations by Vanguard revealed that the hospital can no longer care for the patients already on admission. As a result, the management has resorted to forceful discharge of patients whose cases are less serious.
Unfortunately, most of the patients who were discharged have refused to leave. When Vanguard visited LUTH, yesterday, many of the patients who refused to obey the discharge order have continued to groan without being attended to.
In some of the wards like Female Surgical Ward, Ward D, Children Emergency and Modular Theatre, Vanguard investigations revealed that there were skeletal services there, thanks to a special arrangement by nurses, patients and some sympathetic doctors
Confirming the forceful discharge , a patient, Mrs. Chukwuma Ijeoma, said: “I was actually discharged two days ago but where else do I go with a little amount of money left on me. I would have loved to try other places, especially now that no doctor is attending to me but where is the money for deposit over there. I pray the strike is over today.”
We are following JTB directive — CMD
Reacting to the development, Chief Medical Director of LUTH, Prof Akin Osibogun who lamented the unfortunate incident said the management of the hospital was following the directive of the Joint Tax Board in implementing the new tax law.
He noted: ”We are obeying the law. We are following directives by the Joint Tax Board.”
At press time, it was gathered that the striking doctors were holding a meeting with the hospital and government’s representatives towards finding a lasting solution to the industrial action.