Children in distress as Al-Sabbah strike drags

Children in distress as Al-Sabbah strike drags

Service delivery at Al Sabbah Children’s Hospital has been interrupted after intern health workers went on strike on September 1, 2021, citing deteriorating welfare.

In a letter seen by The City Review, the interns demanded that their COVID-19 allowances be paid, adding that they have not been receiving their daily and monthly incentives, which made them incapable of reporting for duties.

On Tuesday, the interns held a meeting together with Executive Director Justin Bruno Tongun and the meeting was attended by some senior medical officials.

They requested the Executive Director to approve a daily cash amount of SSP50,000 for the team covering 24-hour duties to facilitate feeding and ease transportation.

However, the demands were trashed by Mr Bruno who gave a 24-hour ultimatum to the interns to commit or quit.

In what some interns considered a threat, those who fail to register within the given timeframe will have their names sent back to the National Ministry of Health via the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

“If you are not ready to resume work, go home and we meet on Monday. The meeting is closed and nobody should have any meeting within the hospital premises from now,” Bruno told the interns during the meeting.

Patients impacted

Many patients at the children’s hospital confirmed to journalists yesterday that they have not been attended to because the few available full-time doctors were overwhelmed.

A mother identified as Mary, who sought treatment for her baby at the hospital said there was only one doctor serving patients at the hospital. The unnamed doctor only checks on a few patients and signs out.

“Today, the doctor came, he did not see all patients. He attended to a few patients and went.  We don’t know the reason why the rest of the patients were not attended tom,” she said.

“My child was not attended to since morning, and I have been waiting for the doctor to come and see him, but nothing,” Mary added.

Another mother said, “That Sunday, there were children who were brought in a critical condition, the doctor had not yet attended to them and they just died. Then there was another one that was brought and was to be attended to immediately, but when they took the child to the testing lab, there was no doctor and I think that’s what causes these delays until the child dies.”

Not suspended

Contrary to some earlier media reports, the Executive Director at the hospital says the intern medical health workers were not suspended.

The Ministry of Health has directed that the management of Al-Sabbah Children’s Hospital provide basic services to the interns and those who stick to the three aforementioned demands be sent back to their respective institutions of learning.

“I am yet to write that, but that is not a suspension, it is like you have been sent from one unit to go back to where you have come from because maybe those people have a solution for you in 72 hours,” Bruno told journalists.

“We have not suspended anybody, otherwise the doctors suspended themselves because they said these dues have to be made in 72 hours. In our meeting, the doctors have refused our local internal solutions now why are you hanging around the hospital? Are you doing any good by being around?” he questioned.

Al-Sabbah is the most funded government-owned children’s health facility with UNICEF and USAID being major donors.