Medical practitioners, under the auspices of the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria, MDCAN, have issued a 21-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to meet its demands or face industrial disharmony.
MDCAN made this known in a communique, signed by its President, Dr Victor Makanjuola, and Secretary-General, Dr. Yemi Raji, issued on Tuesday at the end of its extraordinary National Executive Council meeting.
The NEC expressed dismay over the non-implementation of the jointly agreed upward review of CONMESS and the introduction of Accoutrement allowance with the Nigerian Medical Association, as the released circular only captured the percentage increase on the basic salary, as against applying it to both the basic salaries and all allowances except hazard allowance.
The communique partly reads, “This error has resulted in the complete exclusion of the clinical lecturers (Honorary Consultants) from benefitting from the upward review. The commencement date for the new circular was agreed to be January 1, 2023, rather than June 1, 2023.
“We believe this error will be corrected without delay. The recent upward review of CONMESS did not take into consideration the consequences of the fuel subsidy removal and exponential inflation that has pervaded our socio-economic space in the past three months.
“Despite our association’s decision to keep faith with the engagement and negotiations with the National Salaries Incomes and Wages Commission for more than two years regarding the correction of the shortfalls in remuneration for Clinical Lecturers (Honorary Consultants), the issue is yet to be conclusively addressed by the Federal Government,” it added.
The council said it observed the non-universal implementation of CONMESS for all medical and dental doctors irrespective of the agencies of the government they are working with.
The council decried the failure of the government to appreciate the magnitude of the impacts of brain drain in the health sector, as exhibited by the refusal of the National Council on Establishment to approve the Federal Ministry of Health’s proposal on the upward review of the age of retirement for the Medical and Dental Consultants and other health workers.
The council said the government has failed to resolve the ongoing disputes with the National Association of Residents Doctors and its attendant impacts on access to health care by Nigerians, and the kidnapping of doctors in the country.
The consultants are, however, demanding the immediate review of the newly revised CONMESS circular and issuance of a new circular that would reflect the agreed percentage on both the Basic Salary and other allowances, apart from hazard allowance.
The review, according to the doctors, will ensure that the clinical lecturers would benefit from the upward review.
Other demands include, “A call for the correction of the error of commencement of the implementation of the upward review of CONMESS from June 1, 2023, to January 1, 2023.
“The upward review of the CONMESS should take into consideration the impacts of the fuel subsidy removal and the high inflationary trend that is currently being experienced.
“A demand for the immediate implementation and circularisation of the agreed modalities for correcting the shortfalls in remunerations of Clinical Lecturers (Honorary Consultants). An appeal for the universal applicability of CONMESS to all medical and dental doctors, particularly those in public universities.
“The attention of the government is once again called to the impact of brain drain in the health sector, which is contributing to burnout among our members and inadequate healthcare workforce to cater to the health of Nigerians.
“We, therefore, demand the immediate implementation of the upward review of age retirement to 70 years for Consultants and 65 years for other Health workers, as an immediate measure to bridge the ongoing massive brain drain.
“We appeal to the government to as a matter of urgency resolve all the contending issues with NARD, to ensure that the government hospitals return to normal operation for optimal healthcare delivery immediately.
“We call on the government at all levels, as well as the security agencies to do all within their powers, to ensure the safety of our members and other Nigerians while effecting the immediate and safe release of those currently held captive by kidnappers.
“The NEC hopes that all these issues will be satisfactorily resolved within the next 21 days, failing which it can no longer guarantee the present relative industrial harmony within the government hospitals and our medical schools”, it said.