Striking resident doctors have reached an agreement with the federal government and may call off their strike today.
The details of the agreement were contained in a communique jointly signed by the leadership of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) and a government delegation after a late Friday meeting.
The doctors strike entered the ninth day on Saturday, crippling activities in public tertiary hospitals across the country and leaving patients and their relatives stranded.
A federal government delegation on Friday met with officials of NARD at the ministry of labour in Abuja in a bid to resolve dispute.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the doctors commenced an indefinite strike on April 1 after a meeting with the government delegation on March 31 ended in a deadlock.
The minister of labour, Chris Ngige, had threatened the doctors with the ‘no work, no pay’ rule during an interview on Channels Television penultimate Friday, a day after the strike commenced.
Unperturbed, the doctors continued with their strike, leaving only few doctors to attend to emergency situations.
Resident doctors, who are undergoing training to become consultants, make up a large percentage of doctors in Nigeria’s tertiary hospitals.
Thursday’s meeting between the government and the doctors lasted till midnight as both sides tried to resolve various pending issues that triggered the mass action.
They include: non-payment of House Officers, non-recruitment of House Officers, abolishment of the bench fees, and non-payment of National Minimum Wage consequential adjustment arrears.
Other issues discussed at the meeting were residency training allowance; hazard allowance and payment of Resident Doctors on GIFMIS platform.
At the end of the meeting, a communique jointly signed by the NARD leadership including Okhuaihesuyi Uyilawa, the president, and Phillips Ekpe, the general secretary, was issued.
The government delegation also signed the communique. The signatories from the government team include Ngozi Onwudiwe, Director, Hospital Services at the health ministry; T. A. B. Sanusi, the registrar, Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN); J. A Momoh, Chairman, committee of medical directors among others.
Dated April 9, the communique detailed new commitments on the pending demands of the doctors.
The communique shows that the government acceded to many of the demands of the doctors including the payment of salary arrears and the abolition of the bench fees.
Contacted to know if the doctors are planning to call off the strike with the new commitments, Mr Uyilawa, the NARD president, said the doctors are currently holding a meeting to take a position.
The communiqué shows that the doctors are to get back to the government today, after their meeting.
Below are the new commitments (unedited) reached at Thursday meeting as contained in the communique:
NON-PAYMENT OF HOUSE OFFICERS (H/Os)’ SALARIES:
The meeting noted the efforts of the Medical and Dental Council (MDCN) and OAGF and praised them for working over the holidays to effect payments. The meeting however noted that the payment of the House Officers’ salaries experienced some irregularities as double payments were made to some H/Os in some centers and a few have not been paid as of date. In view of this situation, a 5 man Committee was set up to harmonize the list of the names submitted by NARD, Chairman, Committee of Chief Medical Directors (CCMD) with MDCN. The Committee was to work for 72 hours and produce a valid list to IPPIS through the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH).
The Committee is made up of:
a) FMoH -Dr. M. C. Maha – Chairman
b) MDCN – Dr Henry Okwuokenye – Secretariat
c) IPPIS- Emmanuel Akor
d) NMA- Dr Philip U. Ekpe
e) NARD- Dr. Kingsley Okeke
f) Committee of CMDs – Dr Jaf Momoh
ii). IPPIS is to as soon as possible create a platform where all payments made and the recipients would be made available for accessibility and information, without which it would be difficult to determine those that have been paid and those not paid.
iii). IPPIS should adopt the folio number of H/Os as a means of identification of them as they are being engaged and for their payments.
2. ABOLISHMENT OF THE BENCH FEES:
It was earlier agreed as part of MoA 1 that the policy should be abolished following due process to be initiated by Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) through the National Council on Health (NCH). During the transition period, CMDs are to waive this payment. The Permanent Secretary FMoH is to issue a circular to this effect and send a Memorandum on this for ratification at NCH whenever convened.
3. (A) NON-PAYMENT OF NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE CONSEQUENTIAL ADJUSTMENT ARREARS
(B) SALARY SHORTFALL IN 2014 – 2016 OF RESIDENT DOCTORS
NARD and CCMDs should immediately submit list of affected institutions and personnel strength in order for it to be captured in the 2021 Supplementary Budget. The arrears should be from April 2019 to December 2019 as in MoA 1.
The Budget Office of the Federation (BoF) informed that a circular was earlier issued by the Honourable Minister of Finance setting up a Committee to look into the issue of all shortfalls and is chaired by the Director General (DG) BoF.
The CCMDs and the Permanent Secretary of the FMoH are to work on this with the assistance of the BoF in order to also capture it in the Supplementary 2021 Budget. The special issue of the 2014 – 2016 Salary Shortfall is to be treated here too. Two (2) weeks is dedicated to this.
4. RESIDENCY TRAINING ALLOWANCE
It was reported that 558 people who are not Residents were wrongly paid and bonafide Residents who were not paid are 1003 in number. Those not paid will be captured in the 2021 Supplementary Budget while those wrongly paid will be requested to refund same. The Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) is to provide a special account for this remittance. The Post Graduate Medical College is to henceforth compile the list of all Residents eligible for this payment and transmit to the Budget Office (BoF) through the Federal Ministry of Health.
5. HAZARD ALLOWANCE
The meeting noted that the issue is not peculiar to NARD but cuts across the entire Health Sector and her workforce. The meeting was informed that the Presidential Committee on Salaries (PCS) would be meeting on Monday, 12th April, 2021 at the Federal Ministry of Finance to examine the hazard allowance issue with National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) after which the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU), NARD and other stakeholders will meet on Wednesday, 14th April, 2021 in the Federal Ministry of Labour (FML&E) with their position papers with the PCS.
NARD is to come with their position paper as part of the NMA team.
GROUP LIFE INSURANCE PAYMENT
On Group Life Insurance claims for deceased NARD members, NARD should facilitate the compilation of the list of deceased members by CMDs at the appropriate desk in their institutions. This will be forwarded to the relevant insurance Companies for payment through the FMoH.
This should be accomplished on or before end of April 2021.
6. PAYMENT OF RESIDENTS ON GIFMIS PLATFORM
The meeting noted that NARD is happy with the progress being made to migrate affected Doctors from GIFMIS to IPPIS platform before the end of April 2021. IPPIS confirmed that one week after getting the verified list from BoF, payment will be made.
In view of these understandings, NARD National Officers Committee (NoC) will consult urgently her Executive Council with a view to giving this conciliation process a chance for industrial peace by calling off the strike embarked on 1st April 2021.
NARD is to communicate to the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment on their decision before 12 noon of 10th April, 2021.
No member of NARD is to be punished for this strike.
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