Nigerian doctors have asked for an assessment of the Consolidated Medical Salary Scheme (CONMESS) and the payment of the updated 2023 medical residency training fund by the Federal Government before the 29 May hand-over date, as physicians employed in England’s public health system have commenced what has been described as the most disruptive strike in the history of the UK over their wages and working conditions.
In a communiqué issued by the President of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Dr Emeka Innocent Orji, the medical doctors warned the House of Representatives about a bill sponsored by Ganiyu Johnson which they deemed to be a form of modern-day slavery and should be discarded.
NARD, which makes up 70 per cent of doctors in teaching hospitals and federal medical centres across Nigeria, holds a substantial amount of power and sway.
The resident doctors declared their agreement with the House of Representatives on the obvious risks posed by the current issue of brain drain in the health sector, and promised to cooperate with governments on all levels to reverse the trend and create true solutions.
The association declared that they would not tolerate any effort by the government or its organisations to subjugate Nigerian medical doctors.
In the UK, Nigeria has the third-highest amount of foreign doctors, following India and Pakistan.
After a three-day strike last month and various strikes by nurses, the junior doctors’ action could be the most severe walkout thus far, resulting in the postponement of numerous appointments.
They are demanding a pay rise of 35 per cent, which they said is needed to help make up for more than a decade of salary cuts in real terms. They also argued pandemic backlogs, coupled with staff shortages, are massively increasing workloads, endangering patients.
At a NARD emergency meeting, President Orji raised the alarm concerning similar issues in Nigeria. The meeting was held to address various welfare matters that were affecting the association’s members as well as other pressing matters in the nation. Additionally, the meeting was convened to determine solutions that would improve the lives and practices of resident doctors in Nigeria.
The communiqué reads: “The extended NOC calls for immediate action by the federal government with regards to the upward review of the CONMESS salary structure which has not been done for over ten years now, and to ensure implementation of same before the 29 May hand-over date.
“The extended NOC appreciates the Federal Government of Nigeria for the near completion of the payment of 2020 MRTF and the reviewed hazard allowance arrears. They encouraged the government to ensure that the few persons yet to be paid are settled forthwith.
“The extended NOC calls on government to expedite action on the processing and payment of the reviewed MRTF for the year 2023 as these funds are meant to offset debts associated with update courses as well as examinations of both the national and west African postgraduate colleges, events that have since kicked off for the year.
“The extended NOC urges the Federal Government to keep to agreements reached by the stakeholders constituted by the Ministry of Health on the implementation of the 2023 MRTF and to expedite action on its payment immediately, as any attempts to do otherwise would only throw the health sector into another series of undesired crises.
“The extended NOC admonishes the House of Representatives that the obnoxious bill as sponsored by Ganiyu Johnson is a clear definition of modern day slavery and not in keeping with anything civil and so should be thrown away at this point. The house, however, agreed with him on the palpable dangers of the current menace of brain drain in the health sector and promises to work with government to reverse the trend when the government is ready to come up with genuine solutions to the problem.
“The extended NOC reiterates that any attempt by government or any of her agencies to enslave Nigerian medical doctors under any guise would be strongly and vehemently resisted by the association.”
The resident doctors called on the Federal Ministry of Health and the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria to reassess the present standing of the postgraduate colleges’ membership certificate in order to elevate it back to its prior status as it is in other nations of West Africa.