Hospital Crisis As Senior Doctors Join In Strike Action

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Staff Reporter | The hospital crisis is set to escalate after senior doctors have given notice to join junior doctors in a strike action that has entered its 3rd day.

The doctors cite in the letter above that it is not safe for them to continue with their duties in the absence of junior doctors and will only resume after they are back.

The doctors’ strike enters its third day today, with the medical practitioners accusing the government of failing to concretise its promise of creating more posts and improving their welfare.

Striking doctors vowed to continue with their industrial action until they are furnished with real dates, timelines and the locations of the posts that Health minister David Parirenyatwa announced had been created.

Parirenyatwa, on Tuesday, said the government had opened up 250 posts for doctors and 2 000 posts for nurses, but did not give further details on how soon this would be implemented.

“In the next two weeks, 120 trained doctors will be rendered jobless as a result of an ill-timed freeze on health sector posts,” the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association (ZHDA) said.

“The ministry issued a notice that posts would be created to accommodate the cadres completing internship in the next two weeks. The notice, however, falls short of absolute clarity on when the posts will be availed and an update can only be given by October 14, 2017.

“This arrangement will render our cadres jobless and detached from the payroll for eight months. Revision of this position will definitely unlock avenues of collaborative engagement,” Edgar Munatsi, the ZHDA president, said.

In a statement to its members, ZHDA said the industrial action was deeply anchored on the “unpalatable inability” of the Health ministry to resolve the long-standing issues.

These included that doctors were currently earning around $1,20 per hour as on-call allowances despite an October 2014 agreement between the doctors’ association and the Health minister.

“ZHDA unequivocally reiterates that the agreed minimum of $720 per month be immediately implemented and also the duty-free vehicle policy for health workers,” the association said.

ZHDA said it had been actively engaged in consultations, negotiations and meetings with a view to resolving the current impasse.

“The proposed dates for resolving on-call allowances and duty-free facility are not an accurate reflection of both the urgency, which this matter deserves and the time for which they have been outstanding,” Munatsi said.

ZHDA was yesterday consulting its members on quick ways to resolve the impasse in a manner that causes the least harm to patients and country.

Efforts to get a comment from Parirenyatwa Hospital’s CEO, Thomas Zigora, as well as from Harare Central Hospital were fruitless.

Meanwhile, ZHDA said there was an overwhelming response from government doctors across the country on the call to go on strike.

“Central hospitals such as Mpilo, Parirenyatwa and Harare hospital today literally closed their out-patients’ department and cancelled emergencies. ZHDA deployed a few doctors in casualty and emergency departments to cover for emergency cases,” the association said in a statement. – Newsday/Phylllis Mbanje

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