The Honourable Minister of Health,
Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH),
New Federal Secretariat Complex,
Phase III, Ahmadu Bello Way,
Central Business District,
P.M.B 083, Garki, Abuja, Nigeria.
CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR DESERVED APPOINTMENT AS THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF HEALTH: PLEASE RECTIFY THE INJUSTICE OF UNDERPLACEMENT OF GRADUATE NURSES DURING YOUR TENURE
The University Graduates of Nursing Science Association (UGONSA) and nurses under its commune heartily congratulate you on your deserved appointment as the Honourable Minister of Health. Your re-appointment and elevation to a higher post in the Ministry of Health by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, is a testament to the fact that you utilized the opportunity given you in the first term with great accountability. We pray God to grant you abundant grace, wisdom, good health and strength to enable you excel and do greater things for our health system in your new post.
We deem it appropriate to intimate you, at this budding period of your tenure, on the perennial injustice of underplacement of graduate nurses, which the ministry is yet to rectify, to enable you form a robust framework for righting the wrongs of yesterday to enthrone a repositioned ministry that is equitable and fair to all the healthcare team members, especially the nurses that have so long been marginalized.
As at date, nurse interns are placed on CONHESS 07 whereas their counterparts from other core healthcare disciplines such as Pharmacy, Medical Laboratory Science, Physiotherapy, and so on, are placed on CONHESS 08. Post-NYSC (National Youth Service Corps), the graduate nurses are employed into the Civil Service on CONHESS 08 whereas their counterparts in other core healthcare disciplines are employed on CONHESS 09.
What is more? This injustice of underplacement of graduate nurses to the tune of one grade level below par occurs despite that nursing and the aforementioned core healthcare disciplines have similar entry requirements and course durations for the first degree in the university.
Moreso, the wrongful underplacement is at variance with the gazetted verdict of the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP) award of the year 1981, which granted that the profession of Nursing is on parity with that of Pharmacy in Nigeria, as is the case in Great Britain (Please refer Annexure A for the IAP award document). By the unambiguous provision of the IAP award, the basis for appointment of graduates of Bachelor of Pharmacy (B.Pharm) degree unto CONHESS 09 post-NYSC also justifies why the graduates of the Bachelor of Nursing Science (B.N.Sc) degree, who are on parity with them, should be appointed on the same grade, especially as both professions of nursing and pharmacy have similar entry requirements and course durations for the first degree in the university plus a one year internship training pre-NYSC.
When we registered our displeasure over this wrongful shortchange of nurses, to the immediate past Minister, and demanded for upgrade of salary grade level (GL) of the graduate nurses, in the spirit and letter of the IAP award, to be at par with what is obtainable with their counterparts in other core healthcare disciplines, whose entry points in the civil service are CONHESS 08 for interns and CONHESS 09 post-NYSC, the ministry in her reply, vide a circular Ref No. Ref No. C.6093/T/13 dated 19th June 2017, averred that issues on proper placements or adjustments on cadre/rank/post/GL fall within the purview of the office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (HCSF)/National Council on Establishment (NCE) and not the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH).
Consequently, the ministry advised that if the association (.i.e. UGONSA) wanted a review and upgrade of the current entry point for the graduate nurses, it should send a memorandum to the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN) on a new proposed entry point of CONHESS 09 against the CONHESS 08 that is currently in place. The ministry added that the NMCN, after deliberation on the new memorandum, can forward same to the FMOH for onward transmission and submission to the HCSF for presentation at next NCE meeting for consideration (kindly refer Annexure B for the FMOH response).
Based on the advice of the FMOH, we forwarded a memorandum to the NMCN proposing CONHESS 09 as the entry point of the graduate nurses and as well recognizing higher degrees in nursing such as MSc and PhD in the nurses’ schemes of service. With the tipping that the memo has been transmitted from the NMCN to the FMOH, it portends that the issues of righting this wrong now lies on your table as it is the responsibility of the FMOH to transmit the memo to the office of the HCSF and follow it up to till it is passed and approved by the NCE as was done for other core healthcare disciplines.
We feel dejected whenever we juxtapose the work load and contributions of nurses to client care with this unwarranted ill treatment of wrongful underplacement below par. 10.In terms of work load, nurses are the frontline care givers with the highest bedside visibility, who stay with patients round-the-clock from birth till death serving as a tapestry of care similar to the roles played by mothers in families; a tapestry woven through nurses' daily contact with patients, through attending to patients' physical, psychological, emotional or otherwise holistic needs, administering treatments and medications, monitoring patients' responses to those treatments and medications, helping patients to live with their illness or helping educate them about how to live with their illness, dealing with patients’ family members, and helping patients die with some measure of comfort and dignity when recovery is paled and death is inevitable.
It therefore defies logic, common sense and rationality that nurses who play to our healthcare delivery system similar roles as what mothers play in our homes are the ones singled out for unwarranted marginalization, for no tenable reason, in the same health system where they play central coordinating role.
Our unwavering hope now lies in your rising above whatever sentiment that might have informed the inexplicable perennial ill treatment of wrongful underplacement meted out to nurses by putting on a fatherly garb of equity, justice and fairness and see that the university graduates of nursing science get similar entry placement as their counterparts in other core healthcare disciplines during your tenure.
We passionately appeal that you kindly
CHIEF (HON.) S.E.O. EGWUENU
NURSE G.I. NSHI