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Doctors, nurses leave Bulawayo hospitals

by Staff reporter
18 May 2021 at 06:43hrs | Views
MORE than 140 healthcare workers have resigned from Bulawayo's central hospitals, a development which has compromised service delivery. Most of these healthcare workers are said to be trekking to the UK which recently embarked on massive recruitment in the face of Covid-19.

The resignations come at a time when Government has shown commitment to improve the welfare of its workers through improved salaries and a slew of non-cash incentives.

A total of 52 registered general nurses and two doctors resigned at the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) this year. The public institution has 659 nurses and 171 doctors to cater for all the hospitals within UBH.

Mpilo Central Hospital lost 77 nurses and seven doctors, a development which authorities say has crippled operations. The 1 000-bed central hospital has 535 nurses and 196 doctors.

Both institutions serve patients from the southern region which includes Bulawayo, Midlands, Masvingo, Matabeleland North and South provinces.

Health Services Board chairperson Dr Paulinus Sikosana yesterday said it was unfortunate that the resignations are coming at a time when the Government has stepped up efforts to improve working conditions and remuneration for health workers.

"The Cost of Living was adjusted by 25 percent effected in April 2021 and an additional 45 percent to be reviewed in June, was noted during the Health Workers in the Health Service Bipartite Negotiating Panel (HSBNP). Negotiations are expected to start soon on Health Sector Specific Allowances as soon as Health Workers reconstitute the Apex Panel, whose term of office expired on 30 April 2021," said Dr Sikosana.

Dr Paulinus Sikosana "As the economy improves, salaries and conditions of service will be adjusted and so far, duty-free vehicle importation scheme is fully operational in the health service. Buses are also available to cushion health workers on transport costs."

Dr Sikosana said there were also consultations with the relevant Government ministries regarding the issue of availing land to health workers for low-cost houses.

A number of nurses in councils run clinics are also resigning citing poor salaries. Bulawayo City Council (BCC) is one of the councils that have been hit hard by the exodus of nurses, a development that has further crippled the city's health delivery system, which was already operating at 60 percent capacity.

BCC runs 19 clinics and they are operating with staffing levels of between 49 and 61 percent. Council requires a staff complement of 186 nurses but is left with just 87 nurses following resignations. UBH acting chief executive officer Dr Narcacius Dzvanga said the institution will find it difficult to replace the experience of the nurses and doctors who resigned.

"In terms of figures we can always replace them as we know we have enough nurses graduating every three months. However, these nurses are resigning with a wealth of experience that we will not be able to get," said Dr Dzvanga. He said the impact will be felt in the long run.

"If this trend continues people are going to suffer because numerically, we may remain stable, but filling the gap may take years," added Dr Dzvanga.

Mpilo's acting chief executive Professor Solwayo Ngwenya says the resignations are ongoing and affecting service delivery at the hospital. "Ideally a hospital like Mpilo needs at least 2 000 nurses and 500 doctors but we have 535 nurses and 196 doctors which is very small. If indeed this is to worsen when we are barely coping with the workload then we are going to have a lot of problems," said Prof Ngwenya.

"Healthcare workers are resigning due to a number of problems which must be addressed soon. We are losing experienced nurses and midwives whose replacement might take long if this is not stopped. I am worried about the compromised healthcare services that we will be offering without these experienced members of staff," said Prof Ngwenya.

Efforts to comment from the Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care Dr John Mangwiro were fruitless but last week, he said the Government was working to retain health workers in light of the exodus of staff, especially nurses through the introduction of various schemes that include mortgages and car loans.

"As Government we are committed to ensuring that the life of the health worker is much better and we want them to feel comfortable when they are at work. The Minister of Health and Child Care Vice President Constantino Chiwenga has announced that mortgages for the health workers are back and that they will be able to get car loans with Government cover," he said.

"It is our policy that all hospitals must make sure that workers' canteens are established in those places so that when someone is doing their work, they are happy."

Dr Mangwiro said VP Chiwenga has on several occasions emphasised the need for health workers to get proper accommodation and transport with the salary being icing on the cake.

"The Minister, in many of his presentations made several times, has emphasised that the monetary part should be the last thing as long as the health worker has accommodation and proper transport. The salary should actually be a top up of whatever they already have and that's what we are endeavouring to do," he said.

Source - chroncile