The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors has expressed worry over the waivers granted to hospitals by the Federal Government for the employment of health workers in a bid to enhance healthcare delivery.
NARD said the Federal Government should give clarity on the recent declaration of the Federal Executive Council on the relief of waiver for recruitment from the Head of Service for prompt follow-up.
The government in January authorised the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to approve recruitment requests by qualifying health institutions.
This decision was taken at the Federal Executive Council, which the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof Ali Pate, said would accelerate the hiring of healthcare workers and reduce delays.
Pate noted that President Bola Tinubu directed the council that the approvals of those waivers be delegated to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare so that it would not have to go through the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.
Also, the Minister of State for Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Tunji Alausa, last Friday said the government had set up a committee to look into the issue of accumulated waiver requests for employment of health workers in the various hospitals.
Dr Dele Abdullahi, the President of NARD in a chart with Newsmen on Sunday said there was a need for a policy statement on the statement made by the government.
Abdullahi also worried that even with the policy statement, the process of employment might not have changed so much, and might delay recruitment opportunities for health workers.
Abdullahi said, “The process of recruitment states that when a centre wants to recruit, they should reach out to their current ministry to tell them that they need employment for this group of people, and it will be sent to the Head of Service, and then it goes to the Ministry of Finance, and from there, it goes to the budget office to confirm the financial implication of what they are asking for.
“Then, it goes back to the Head of Service for full ratification, and then it goes back to the Budget Office to confirm if the envelope of the institution can carry the employment. Then, it goes to the Federal Character Commission to ensure that the process of employment follows due process.
“With what FEC said, they cannot go through the Head of Service again. So, is FEC saying if you want to employ, you can just employ from the Ministry of Health without going through the aforementioned ministries or the Ministry of Health can grant a waiver while you inform every other person or you go to other ministries except the Head of Service?”
The NARD president urged the Ministry of Health to provide a policy on the waiver for recruitment.
“We expect that by now, the Ministry of Health should have come out with a policy stating that going forward, employment within the ministry will be done for clinical services in this way. In a case where you have to go around to get waivers from everywhere, then you have to wait for six months, and if it is just the Ministry of Health that is granting waivers, then employment can be done in three months.
“We need the policy statement from the Ministry of Health on the recruitment waivers. We need the documentation backing up the declaration the government has made so that when we meet our Chief Medical Directors, we will tell them this is the paperwork, we don’t want a verbal statement,” he argued.
He further said, “In as much that we have limited health workers in the country, we are worried that the limited workers have limited employment opportunities.
“An institution sometimes may not get a waiver in a whole year, and it means that all the health workers in that institution who want to be employed may not get employment within that whole year.”