Total collapse of health sector looms as Consultant Doctors plan to join Strike

Total collapse of health sector looms as Consultant Doctors plan to join Strike

 

In a bid to avert the looming strike by the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria, MEDCAN, the National Salaries Income, and Wages Commission, NSIWC, has halted movement of consultants from CONMESS to CONUAS salary scale.

It was gathered that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, who is the Conciliator-in-Chief of the Federal Government had directed NSIWC to stop the implementation of what some health workers described as ‘obnoxious circular’ because of its effect on the health sector.

This is as MEDCAN has fixed to meet on Sunday {tomorrow} to take a stand on whether to proceed on its proposed strike.

MEDCAN is a group of senior doctors, who are medical Consultants that teach and guide the resident doctors in their professional operation towards becoming specialists and consultants in their area of specialization.

MEDCAN had on July 26, 2021 issued a 21-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to correct the unwarranted removal of the consultants from CONMESS to CONUA salary scale by their employing universities who had earlier placed them on CONMESS upon appointment about 10 years ago.

The letter which moved them to CONUAS came through a circular by National Salaries income and Wages Commission NSIWC to the Accountant General of the Federation(ACGF) with reference No. SWC /5/04/S.410/T86 and dated 23rd April, 2021.

The letter requested that all medical doctors in the employment of universities and who do extra clinical teaching of the medical students or pre-clinical teaching of medical students in the colleges of medicine should all be moved from CONMESS to CONUAS salary structure.

The doctors claimed that the letter “has resulted in the loss of some allowances and even basic pay with the attendant loss of income.”

It was gathered that MEDCAN had sequel to the new development, approached the NSIWC for reversal but met a brick wall.

The doctors approached the court and secured an injunction against the NSIWC and the Accountant General of the Federation but both again refused to bulge.

A source privy to the matter said that the Minister of Labour and Employment as the government conciliatory, waded into it on August 6, 2021 knowing full well, that these consultants are the only ones now offering services in the various hospitals and medical centres.

According to the source, “the Minister on Thursday, August 12, 2021 directed the Chairman of the National Salaries Income and Wages Commission to halt the implementation of the obnoxious circular in obedience to the court order obtained by these doctors in order to help conciliation that will be devoid of rancor.

The Minister also directed the NSIWC to reverse the instruction to the Accountant General of the Federation and return the medical consultants’ pay to the status quo in obedience to the court order which injuncted both the NSIWC and the office of the Accountant General from implanting that circular.

Ngige also wrote to the Ministry of Finance not to affect the content of the NSIWC letter pending the conciliation and conclusion of the matter in court. Ngige had insisted that no matter how bad a court order is, it must be complied with.

Ngige was said to have expressed disbelieve and embarrassment that NSIWC could take such a step of lowering people’s earnings in the period of Covid-19 without even bringing it up to the Presidential Committee of Salaries for their approval or even information.

To ensure the doctors did not embark on strike, the Minister directed the NSIWC and the ACGF to immediately halt implementation, saying, “this group of doctors are the last gate keepers since most members of NARD had gone off duties, leaving only these honorary consultants, few house officers and medical officers to man all the hospitals.”

According to the source, “This directive of the Hon. Minister of labour has been effectively been carried out by the NSIWC on Friday, August 13, 2021 through a letter to the Accountant General of the Federation to halt further action.

” MEDCAN has also been duly informed by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.”

The letter reads in part, “ The Commission is in receipt of a request by the Honorable Minister of Labour and Employment who is currently conciliating the threat to withdraw services by MDCAN and the interim order of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria in suit No. NICN/ABJ/145/2021 – Dr. Christopher Lucky Akpa and others Vs. National Salaries Income and Wages Commission and others, for a stay of action in respect of our letter of April 22, 2021, for those already enrolled, pending the outcome of both conciliatory meeting and the matter in court.”

The source also said,” MEDCAN is billed to meet on Sunday, 15th August 2021 according to their President, Prof. Ozoilo to decide on their next line of action, whether to proceed with planned strike or not”

But inside source said, “Ngige has tactfully moved to save the Federal Government of another round of embarrassment as this group of doctors would now, have no excuse to withdraw services on Monday, August 16 as stated in their ultimatum to the Federal Government.”

Credit : VANGUARD

 

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