In a recent development, the Federal Government of Nigeria has given its nod to the appointment of doctors, nurses, and other clinical healthcare professionals as contract staff after reaching their mandatory retirement age or years of service.
The decision comes as a response to ongoing discussions surrounding the retirement age of medical and dental consultants, as well as other healthcare professionals.
According to a circular dated October 5, 2023, issued by the Federal Ministry of Health, Chief Executive Agencies, Chief Medical Directors, Medical Directors, and Heads of Regulatory Bodies and Schools have been instructed to ensure strict compliance with a previous circular issued by the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to all staff within their respective institutions.
This development follows a prior circular dated August 30, 2023, from the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation. The earlier circular, titled ‘Re: Review of retirement age to 65 and 70 years for health professionals and medical/dental consultants,’ with reference number HCSF/SPSO/ODD/CND/100/S./145, was addressed to the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Health.
The circular, signed by Olufemi Oloruntoba, the Permanent Secretary of the Service Policies and Strategies Office, on behalf of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, expressed the rejection of the proposed increase in retirement age for medical and dental consultants and other health professionals. The circular cited several reasons for the rejection:
Firstly, it emphasised that healthcare professionals were leaving the country not due to their retirement age but primarily because of financial considerations and unfavourable working conditions.
Some state governments had already increased the retirement age of medical doctors and healthcare workers without effectively addressing the ongoing issue of healthcare worker emigration.
Furthermore, the circular expressed dissatisfaction with the work ethic of healthcare workers, despite the government’s efforts to encourage them. It acknowledged the continuous brain drain in the healthcare sector.
However, in a significant move, the circular also approved that clinical health workers who have reached their compulsory retirement age or years of service may be offered contract appointments.
These contract appointments would be on the same salary scale level that they retired on, provided the healthcare worker desires and deserves it.
The circular urged the government to engage with relevant bodies, such as the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria and the Nigerian Medical Association, to secure a commitment from medical doctors.
Additionally, it called for the establishment of an effective performance management system within the public service to enhance the work ethics of medical officers, consultants, and doctors.
The circular emphasised the importance of medical professionals showing greater patriotism in the discharge of their duties and refraining from actions that could disrupt the healthcare system.
In light of these developments, the Federal Ministry of Health has called upon all executives of agencies, Chief Medical Directors, Medical Directors, and Heads of Regulatory Bodies and Schools to ensure strict compliance with the directives issued by the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation.
The circular pertaining to this matter was signed by Daloba Paul Edward, the Deputy of Appointment, Promotion, and Discipline, on behalf of Prof. Ali Pate, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, and was referenced as C.4007/T.2/37.