Reverse new guidelines within 48 hours or we downtool, nurses tell NMCN

Nurses from both public and private hospitals in Lagos State have threatened to withdraw their services if the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria refuses to reverse the new guidelines for the verification of certificates.

The nurses under the aegis of the Naija Nurses Forum gave NMCN 48 hours to reverse the verification guidelines, stressing that they may not attend to patients until their demands are met.

PUNCH Healthwise reported that the nurses, on Monday, stormed the streets of Lagos to protest against the new guidelines for verification of certificates, describing it as an attempt to restrict their ability to seek professional prospects.

PUNCH Healthwise reported that the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria issued a memo dated February 7, 2024, revising the guidelines for requesting verification of certificates for nurses and midwives.

The NMCN said eligible applicants must have a minimum of two years post-qualification experience from the date of issuance of the permanent practising licence.

The memo was addressed to all state ministries of Health, university teaching hospitals, specialist and federal medical centres, NANNM headquarters, universities offering nursing programmes, colleges of nursing sciences, schools of nursing and midwifery, all post-basic nursing programmes, and all nursing and midwifery councils’ zonal offices.

The nurses, who were displeased, however, protested against the new verification guidelines, asking the council to reverse it within 48 hours.

The protest monitored by PUNCH Healthwise, had the aggrieved nurses moving from Harvey Road to UNILAG Road, from where they proceeded to the Neuro-Psychiatrist Hospital, Yaba.

The nurses were seen singing and carrying placards around Lagos streets as they protested peacefully.

Some of the placards they carried had inscribed on them, ‘We no gree for NMCN free Nigeria Nurses’, ‘Nurses no be slaves No to letter of good standing from anybody’, ‘We are not here to fight we just want the policy withdrawn’, ‘Let nurses breath, say no to NMCN verification rules’,

Speaking with our correspondent, the coordinator of the forum, Thomas Abiodun said the nurses would downtool if the council does not yield to their demands.

She described the new verification guidelines as a way to frustrate nurses from seeking greener pastures, insisting that the directive infringes on their basic human rights.

“We are nurses licensed by the NMCN. So, lawfully, we should not be expecting our own regulatory body to refer us back to any head or CMD to give us an authorisation letter for verification. That is wrong and an act of human rights violation.

“We are here to condemn the verification portal shutdown by NMCN without prior notification. We also condemn the new guidelines set by the NMCN for verification.

“So, in this vein, we are calling on the NMCN registrar to reverse the new verification guideline, instead, he should work towards proper placement for nurses in the federal health system and state in general.

“We are also calling on the NMCN registrar to work towards proper remuneration for nurses. We are calling upon him to also work towards proper hazard allowance,” she said.

The coordinator urged NMCN to address nurses’ welfare, salary scale, shortage of staff, and other rights.

On the claim that there is a shortage of nurses in the country, Abiodun maintained that there are a large number of unemployed nurses in the country.

She added, “According to them, they said it is because of the shortage of nurses that they are trying to prevent japa but that is a total lie. A lot of nurses are in Nigeria unemployed; many are in the country working in private hospitals earning poorly, and many nurses are in the country whose licenses are being used by unauthorised private hospitals for accreditation.

“We expect the registrar to fight for all our agitations rather than coercing nurses to stay back forcefully.

“As it is, it is not affecting only nurses in Nigeria. Some nurses in Canada want to change their province but can’t do so because the verification portal has been shut down. Those in the US are unable to move from one place to another because they are unable to access the verification portal.”

Corroborating her, another nurse, Kunle Emmanuel lamented that there is underemployment of nurses in Nigeria.

He said, “As we speak, the Federal Government is not employing nurses. We challenge the FG to tell us when last they recruited nurses.

“Verification or nurses relocating is not an issue, the issue is the underemployment of nurses in Nigeria; we have thousands of unemployed nurses.

“You are not employing them and you don’t want them to go and get employment where they want it. What do you want them to do?

“What we are asking is that they should remove the verification circular that was just released. Employ nurses because they are all over everywhere unemployed.

“There is no nurse shortage in Nigeria. Let them advertise for nurse employment today, you will see a lot of them that are ready to work. No advertisement and no vacancy for employment.”

The nurses, who also protested at the premises of the NMCN office in Yaba, presented a 14-point demand list to the zona officer, Jumoke Onawola.

The demand list includes immediate employment of nurses, providing a conducive working place, providing job security, increasing salary structure, and eradicating quackery, among others.

Responding, the NMCN zonal officer said the list would be sent to Abuja, urging the nurses to exercise patience.

She promised that the council would deliberate on how to tackle some of the issues raised by the nurses.


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