In a significant move, the Federal Government has granted approval for the appointment of doctors, nurses, and other clinical healthcare workers as contract staff upon reaching their compulsory retirement age or years of service. However, the government emphasized that the appointed contract staff would receive salaries based on the same scale level they retired on, provided they desired and deserved it.
A circular, dated October 5, 2023, from the Federal Ministry of Health, obtained by our correspondent, directed various healthcare institutions and regulatory bodies to ensure compliance with an earlier circular issued by the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to all staff in their establishments.
This development follows a circular from the OHCSF dated August 30, 2023, which rejected the proposed upward review of the retirement age for medical and dental consultants and other health professionals from 60 to 70 and 75, respectively. The circular, titled ‘Re: Review of retirement age to 65 and 70 years for health professionals and medical/dental consultants,’ highlighted the decision of the 44th National Council on Establishment, which turned down the request for an age increase.
The rejection was based on the understanding that health professionals were leaving the country due to financial considerations and unfavorable working conditions, not retirement age. The council also expressed dissatisfaction with health workers’ attitudes towards work, noting that despite efforts to encourage them, the issue of brain drain persisted.
The OHCSF, however, approved that clinical health workers who have reached the compulsory retirement age or years of service may be given contract appointments on the same salary scale level they retired on if desired and deserved. The government plans to engage with professional bodies like the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria and the Nigerian Medical Association to seek commitment from medical doctors.
To address the observed dissatisfaction with health workers’ work ethics, the circular suggested the need to institutionalize an effective performance management system in the public service. It also urged medical doctors to demonstrate more patriotism in their duties and avoid holding the system to ransom.
Consequently, the circular from the Federal Ministry of Health urged all executives of agencies, chief medical directors, medical directors, and heads of regulatory bodies and schools to ensure strict compliance with the OHCSF directive. The circular was signed by Deputy of Appointment, Promotion, and Discipline, Daloba Paul Edward, on behalf of the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Ali Pate.