Doctors demand salary review before May 29
• UK counterparts begin strike over pay
• NARD wants payment of reviewed 2023 medical residency training fund
• Admonishes Reps on obnoxious bill sponsored by Johnson
• To summon NEC meeting in two weeks on next line of action
As doctors working in England’s public health service, yesterday, began what has been described as the most disruptive strike in UK’s history over pay and working conditions, doctors in Nigeria, in same vein, have demanded a review of the Consolidated Medical Salary Scheme (CONMESS) and payment of revised 2023 medical residency training fund by the Federal Government before May 29 hand-over date.
The medical doctors, under the aegis of Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), in a communiqué issued by its President, Dr. Emeka Innocent Orji, at the end of its Emergency Extended National Officers’ Committee (NOC), held virtually, admonished the House of Representatives on the obnoxious bill sponsored by Ganiyu Johnson. They said the bill is the definition of modern-day slavery and should be thrown away. A resident doctor is a medical school graduate and doctor in training that is taking part in a graduate medical education (GME) programme. Healthcare stakeholders commonly refer to resident doctors as “residents” and first-year residents as “interns”.
In Nigeria, NARD wields a lot of influence as its constitute about 70 per cent of doctors in teaching hospitals and federal medical centres nationwide.
The resident doctors said they agree with House of Representatives on the palpable dangers of current menace of brain drain in the health sector and promised to work with government at all levels to reverse trend and come up with genuine solutions.
They, however, said any attempt by government or its agencies to enslave Nigerian medical doctors would be resisted by the association.
Meanwhile, as the United Kingdom is set to enforce a restriction on recruitment by health and social care workers on Nigeria and 53 other countries, doctors, yesterday, began a four-day walkout, following months of strikes by other public and private sector staff as inflation has spiked UK’s worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation.
After India and Pakistan, Nigeria has the third-highest number of foreign doctors working in the UK.
The action by the junior doctors, comes after a three-day stoppage last month and several strikes by nurses, and threatens to be the most serious walkout yet, leading to the cancellation of many appointments.
They are demanding a pay rise of 35 per cent, which they say is needed to help make up for more than a decade of salary cuts in real terms. They also argue pandemic backlogs, coupled with staff shortages, are massively increasing workloads, endangering patients.
Raising the alarm over similar issue in Nigeria, President of NARD, Orji, said the emergency meeting was due to several outstanding welfare issues bothering the members of the association as well as other burning contemporary issues in the country. The meeting equally seeks to address issues that affect the lives and practice of resident doctors in Nigeria, and to decide on the way forward.
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 May 29th 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 urged the Federal Ministry of Health and the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria to review the current status of the membership certificate of the postgraduate colleges with the aim of upgrading it as it used to be and as it is in other west African countries.
The resident doctors resolved to summon an extraordinary National Executive Council Meeting in the next two weeks to review the issues raised and determine the next line of action.