Following a circular dated 12th April 2021 the Federal Government has stopped payment of salaries and/or allowances to graduates of Medical and Health sciences who are on mandatory 1 year Internship/ Housemanship and NYSC programme with Federal Government Institutions. They will no longer be paid according to grade levels set in the scheme of the Federal civil service. The Federal government is no longer under any obligation to pay for the services of such Interns and NYSC health officers. This is the fallout of a meeting of the National Council on Establishment (NCE), the highest decision making body in the civil service, held in Lagos between 30th November and 4th December 2020. The circular also specifically referred to Doctors on internship and NYSC.
The NCE says that in consideration of the fact that the Interns are presumed to be on training they should not be entitled to a full Salary scale from the government. The NCE further left payment of allowances to the interns to the National Salaries Incomes and Wages Commission. The circular was signed by the Head of Civil Service Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan who is a Dentist and best graduating dental student from the University of Ibadan in 1987.
The press release is here reproduced as follows:
“Head of Service of the Federation
12th April, 2021
INTERNSHIP PROGRAMME IN THE CIVIL/PUBLIC SERVICE
The National Council on Establishments (NCE) at its 42nd meeting held from 30th November 4th December, 2020 in lkeja, Lagos State reviewed the current status of internship programmes/housemanship/NYSC Doctors in the Service, and approved their removal from the Schemes of Service as posts attracting grade levels in the salary structure.
The Council based its decision on the grounds that the period of these programmes/services form part of the trainings in their respective professions. Interns shall, however, be considered for the payment of allowance to be determined by the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission. This approval will be reflected in subsequent edition of the Schemes of Service.
Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan
Head of the Civil Service of the Federation”
Recall that Medical Doctors are paid based on an approved Consolidated Medical Salary Scale (CONMESS) outside of the regular civil service salary structure. Doctors on mandatory Internship/housemanship (House Officers) were previously on the CONMESS salary scale as Federal civil servants. It was based on this premise that states and private institutions place Doctors and Pharmacists on full salary scale.
For many years it had been a standard practice for institutions to pay Medical House Officers and Pharmacist Interns in Pharmacy, Optometry and other professions who are on the mandatory 1 year internship programmes prerequisite to full licensing by their various regulatory bodies after which they proceed on mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). House officers and Interns were previously entitled to full salaries and some of the allowances that government staff enjoy include designated accommodation depending on the institution they found themselves.
In recent years Medical Doctors on houseman-ship have been known to protest non-payment of salaries and entitlements for months even up till the end of their houseman-ship programme.
House officers have been known to take to social media to cry out against presumed injustice following the non- payment or half payment of their salaries after the centralization by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN). Some accused Medical Directors of Federal Health Institutions of not cooperating with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria's push for House officer salaries. Examples are protests which occurred in the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital and Jos University Teaching Hospital.
Questions are being raised of what the future hold for young graduates in the Health sciences, such as Medicine and Pharmacy, who would otherwise be on internships. Surely applying to Federal government institutions for Internships will become less attractive. Also it is yet to be seen whether the state governments and other private institutions who absorb Interns and NYSC Pharmacists and Doctors will follow suite.