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Private hospital doctors strike

by Staff reporter
02 Jun 2022 at 06:44hrs | Views
PATIENTS admitted to Premier Service Claybank Hospital in Gweru have gone for two days without getting medical care as more than 200 nurses, doctors, and health support staff at the upmarket health care centre have downed tools.

The medical personnel and support staff have been on strike since Monday demanding a salary increment and payment of allowances in United States dollars.

Premier Service Claybank Hospital popularly known as Claybank Hospital is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Premier Service Medical Investments (PSMI).

PSMI is Zimbabwe's largest private network of diversified medical service provision centres.

The major source of income that pays PSMI staff salaries are subscriptions to Premier Medical Aid Society (PSMAS), which are paid in local currency.

The striking health workers in interviews yesterday said patients are being turned away because of a shortage of protective clothing, basic medicine, and low morale among staff members.

They said they are being paid in local currency for both salary and allowances.

They alleged that the theatre is down, adding that no operations are taking place at the health institution thereby disadvantaging the patients.

"Moral is just too low at this hospital. You will find that operation procedures are not being carried out as the theatre is down and there are no technicians to operate machines. We have downed tools to protest against the deteriorating working conditions and failure by the employer to pay us salaries on time, as well as non-payment of Covid-19 allowances which civil servants are receiving," said a nurse on condition of anonymity.

In a statement yesterday, PSMI confirmed that the health personnel and support staff at the health institution had downed tools.

"Working capital gaps continue to affect the operations of the hospital, and indeed, PSMI as a whole. Because of the gaps that exist between the costs of providing services and the revenue inflows, we will continue to face challenges in areas like remuneration and conditions of service.

"We acknowledge that the negative working capital gap at PSMI has resulted in business disruptions which includes intermittent closure of some facilities as a result of a delayed payment of premise and practitioner licences, practitioner cover, rentals and rates, supply of water and backup power," read a statement from PSMI.

PSMI said management is working with employees' representatives to find a lasting solution to the matters they have raised.

"The management is working with staff representatives to establish a meeting of minds on how we can continue to provide services in the current situation as service delivery remains a priority as does staff welfare. The movement of our funding cycle has led directly to the delays in salary dates.

"The concerns of our staff are valid, and we have had a backlog of payments of staff benefits which we have begun to settle, but the gap remains and at the current rate, it will take a while longer to get up to date. We are confident that once all stakeholder engagements are completed and our situation improves, we will once again be an employer of choice," read the statement.

The major source of income that pays staff salaries, read the statement, are subscriptions to PSMAS, which are paid in local currency.

"It would be impossible, at this point, to pay salaries in USD as we do not have the revenue base to sustain this request. Our current forex receipts are minimal and are directed towards items such as stocks where they constitute a small percentage of the requirements. We remain optimistic that once the internal processes and verification on the part of our funders have been completed, they will make the remittances which will go a long way in addressing the majority of issues raised here."

Three weeks ago, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, who is also the Minister of Health and Child Care, said the Government was committing additional financial resources on a monthly basis to ensure the viability of (PSMAS) and PSMI to deliver on their core mandate.

He said the funds are targeted to retire the debt to PSMI and other third-party service providers.

VP Chiwenga said the financial support will extend to PSMI to pay its workforce and procure adequate medical drugs consistently.

Source - The Chronicle