SCRAPPING OF INTERNSHIP AS A POST ATTRACTING GRADE LEVEL IN THE CIVIL SERVICE: GRADUATE NURSES CALLS ON FG TO RECONSIDER ITS POSITION
Nurses under the aegis of University Graduates of Nursing Science Association (UGONSA) have called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to reconsider its recent scrapping of internship position as a post that attracts grade level in the Civil Service.
In a joint statement by its National President, Chief (Hon). Solomon E. O. Egwuenu, and its Ag. National Secretary, Nurse Philip O. Eteng, the association said that such a move may be good for other sectors of the economy but certainly not for the health sector.
According to the association, the period of internship is the most critical period of training of the healthcare professionals be it the nurse, the doctor, the pharmacist, or the Medical Lab Scientist. It is at this period that the foundation for practice is laid. Toying with such programme amounts to toying with the foundation; a house built on a faulty foundation is doomed to fail.
The statement read, “The bulks of the healthcare professionals that constitute the interns are a critical part of the healthcare workforce and fill a considerable manpower gap in the health sector.
“Removing them from the Civil Service cadre in our own assessment can never be to give an incentive to them but rather a fig tree for slashing their salaries. Our health system is already at a crossroad and needs good incentives to motivate the workforce to continue their sacrifices for the nation rather than floating a kite for slashing their already paltry salaries which are nothing when compared with what healthcare professionals earn elsewhere in the world.
“The healthcare sector is very peculiar in the sense that the lives of people are tied to it. Healthcare professionals whether interns or not are supposed to be properly taken care of such that they can concentrate all their energies and attention to taking care of others rather than being pronged by hunger and hardship which may take their attention away from their central calling which is to live their lives wholly for the health of humanity.
We have lost many of our seasoned healthcare professionals to the health system of other nations who pay and appreciate their services better. We cannot afford to lose more by toeing a path that will lead to further slashing of their already paltry salaries especially for our young generation who shall be heavily traumatized by such development which is capable of puncturing their faith in our health system beyond repair.
The poor performance of our health system in global ranking is never the fault of our healthcare professionals. It is a systematic fault of not putting the right facilities and motivation in place to enable our healthcare professionals to replicate the type of wonders they have been performing when they travel abroad in our own health system.
The monies wasted on medical tourism is enough to rejig our health system and make a competing payment to the healthcare professionals that will dissuade those currently practicing in the country from contemplating going abroad and compel those that have left for greener pasture to return home.
Rather than scrapping the internship post from the civil service grades and telling the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) to offer the interns some allowances, we recommend that NSIWC’s allowance should be offered to them in addition to their retaining their grades in the civil service and the remunerations for those grades, to engender a motivated workforce.
We also call on the Federal Government, the National Council on Establishment, and the office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to expedite action on the lingered issue of proper placement of the graduate nurses as no health system in the whole world has ever thrived or evolved better by treating the nursing workforce, which is the heartbeat of care delivery, as subservient to other healthcare professionals- the statement concluded.