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Doctors' strike enters day 6

by Staff reporter
22 Feb 2017 at 05:55hrs | Views
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OPERATIONS at public hospitals in Bulawayo have been affected as the doctors' strike entered its sixth day yesterday amid calls for them to return to work as negotiations continue.

The doctors downed tools on Wednesday last week demanding on-call allowances to be increased to a minimum of $720 for the lowest paid doctor from $288, among other demands.

Mpilo Central Hospital clinical director Dr Solwayo Ngwenya yesterday said 38 of the hospital's doctors were on strike.

"The strike has affected operations at the hospital. We have 38 doctors on strike despite pleas for them to come back to work. The gap has been filled by middle grade doctors but they are complaining of being overworked.

"Patients are not being turned away but it's taking longer than usual for them to be attended to. I'm pleading with them to come back to work and negotiate with their employer while attending to patients," said Dr Ngwenya.

United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) chief executive officer Mrs Nonhlanhla Ndlovu said although senior doctors were reporting for work, the strike had left them with a serious shortage of manpower.

"The junior doctors are still on strike. Our senior doctors are coming to work but the work load is too much for them. This affects patients as they have to spend more time at the hospital. We're attending to all the patients that seek medical attention," said Mrs Ndlovu.

Doctors' associations insisted yesterday that Government should attend to their grievances for them to return to work.

Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors' Association (ZHDA) president Dr Edgar Munatsi said they will negotiate while on strike.

"It's not possible for us to go back to work before the Government addresses these issues. In 2014 when doctors went on strike, they were promised that conditions of service and allowances would be improved but that never happened. Negotiations have been going on but no reasonable offer has been brought forward. We want the Ministry of Finance to be part of the negotiations because as far as we're concerned it's Treasury that is responsible for issues that have to do with money," said Dr Munatsi.

Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZiMA) secretary general Dr Shingi Makone said while his association does not condone strikes by doctors, it was important for Government to honour its promises.

"We don't condone any strike action by health workers. We're doing all we can to encourage them to go back to work and save lives.

"We also implore the Government to listen to the grievances presented by its workers. There are promises made by the Government in 2014 but they're yet to be implemented," said Dr Makone.

He said while they appreciate a recent Government decision to recruit 250 doctors, it was a drop in the ocean as the country has a deficit of 4 000 doctors.

"Treasury should open up posts for doctors. There are some hospitals that have gone for years without a single doctor not because there are no doctors in the country but because the Government doesn't want to employ them," he said.

Efforts to get a comment from Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa or his deputy Dr Adrian Musiiwa were fruitless yesterday as their mobile phones were not reachable.

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Source - chronicle