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Doctors reject parity with health workers

Doctors may resume strike they suspended in 2014 if any settlement between striking Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and the government violates two 2014 ‘collective…

Doctors may resume strike they suspended in 2014 if any settlement between striking Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and the government violates two 2014 ‘collective bargaining’ agreements, the Nigerian Medical Association reached with government.

The reminder comes after the JOHESU strike was extended to states and local government-controlled health facilities.

NMA called the move a “callous and ill-motivated” agitation for pay parity between JOHESU members and doctors, which it said would erode relativity and distort hierarchy in the health sector.

NMA said it “vehemently” opposed any adjustment in the consolidated health sector salary scale in effort to reach pay parity between doctors and allied professionals, insisting, “Relativity is sacrosanct.”

It also said the demand for professional autonomy by JOHESU and allied health professional unions was a “fight for professional ego” against the leadership of clinical teams headed by a physician. 

It said JOHESU agitation to have other health workers appointed consultant was a “self-centred” agitation to ensure anyone other than physicians are in charge of clinical care.

“This is not only an aberration, considering international best practice, that will add no value to patients’ care, it will certainly worsen morbidity and mortality indices in Nigeria,” said NMA president Francis Faduyile in a statement.

He also said JOHESU demand that workers other than doctors head hospital units and departments would lead to chaos.

“The NMA is not against career progression of allied health professionals but will not accept any decision that allows for multiple appointments of directors in a department without such being applicable to medical doctors,” said Faduyile.

While it insists appointment of medical directors of tertiary hospitals be based on medical qualification, it kicked against JOHESU demand to have the position of DCMAC-deputy chairman of medical advisory committee, a position created by hospital management boards-abolished. 

Doctors only support JOHESU demand to raise retirement age and to have its members skip one pay grade 10 on the consolidate health salary scale and have accrued arrears paid up, according to an Industrial Court judgement.

But it insists the implication of the government acceding to any demand that violates the collective bargaining agreement of January 2014 could result in doctors walking out of hospitals themselves.

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