By Paul Obi
The crisis rocking the nation’s health sector Wednesday took a new dimension, with the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) warning the Federal Government not to honour or adhere to various demands made by the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU).
In a statement made available to THISDAY, NMA President, Dr. Osahon Enabulele, accused JOHESU of putting forward arbitrary demands that are not tenable.
According to him, “NMA has been drawn to the ongoing strike action by the leadership of JOHESU over government’s justified refusal to allow skipping of CONHESS 10 by Allied Health Professionals, as well as other demands.”
He explained that, “though we question the basis of government’s engagement with JOHESU rather than the recognised individual unions and associations in the health sector, we have nevertheless reviewed the publicised demands of JOHESU, particularly the basis of the current strike action by JOHESU (an amorphous coalition of some Allied Health Professionals/Paramedics).
“It is indeed shocking and disappointing to the NMA that members of JOHESU/Allied health professionals are demanding to continue in acts reminiscent of stealing from government by threatening and blackmailing government to allow them jump a whole grade level in the public service. This is certainly outrageous, especially as there is no verifiable or justifiable reason to warrant that immoral concession.
“If government succumbs to this threat and blackmail by allowing the Allied Health Professionals under the aegis of an amorphous body to skip a grade level (even against the circular earlier issued by the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation outlawing skipping in the civil service) then government must also allow skipping of grade level not just for doctors, but for the entire Federal Civil Service workforce. In that case, government will have to elongate the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) for medical/dental practitioners in addition to re-introducing the Medical Salary Super Scale (MSSS)/Salary Structure for doctors.”
The NMA further questioned the rationale of other health workers are now being accorded the status of consultant, “we wish to responsibly state that the craze by every health worker group/Allied Health Professionals to be designated as Consultant calls for a serious rethink on the part of government on how it got to this point of inducing this type of inordinate demands within its system.”
“It is important to point out that the term ‘Consultant’ as used in the healthcare system is not an appellation for collecting allowances as our friends in JOHESU seem to believe. To the contrary, the Consultant carries a lot of responsibility and liability. Patients are registered and admitted under the Consultant in the hospital. Irrespective of who works with the Consultant, including other doctors, he or she (the Consultant) has a final decision on the patient, and takes responsibility for any adverse outcome, even in the law court,” he added.
All efforts to reach JOHESU officials proved abortive as they were not available for comment.
The union has been in loggerhead with the Federal Ministry of Health over what it termed unfair treatment of its members to the advantage of medical doctors under the umbrella of NMA.
The union and NMA in recent times have also become sworn enemies following discrepancies in government policies believed to have been tilted towards favouring NMA members.