Striking doctors return to work

Paidamoyo Chipunza, Harare Bureau
Normalcy in service delivery is expected to return at most health institutions today after Government guaranteed junior doctors of employment soon after graduating from medical school.

While the junior doctors seemed satisfied with Government’s position on medical posts, they said hospital officials should stop threats of dismissal to some of their colleagues who participated in the strike.

The secretary for Health and Child Care Dr Gerald Gwinji confirmed the latest development, saying the contentious issue of staff establishments for the junior doctors was solved and they were now expecting the medical practitioners to return to work, while other outstanding issues were being looked into.

“We had another meeting this morning to map the way forward,” he said.

“Posts had been concurred by Treasury on the 14th of February.”

Dr Gwinji said other outstanding issues raised by the junior doctors on which they were demanding an upward review of on call allowance to $720 and a duty free framework were to be looked into while they were at work.

He assured the doctors that Government had no intentions of expelling any doctor who could                        have participated in the two-day stay away.

“It was perhaps different interpretation of letters sent to them by the various clinical directors which are really administrative in nature and seeking to rationalise whatever staff is available on the ground by creating a new interim roster,” said Dr Gwinji.

He said the statement that became an issue to the doctors was to do with “application” to get back on the roster should one return to offer their services again.

“This has been clarified with the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association (ZHDA) executive and we do hope colleagues will return to work while we together attend to other outstanding issues,” said Dr Gwinji.

In an interview soon after the meeting, ZHDA secretary general Dr Alloys Muzvaba said if Government addressed the dismissal threats raised by some clinical directors, they will all return to work.

“Our main issue was to do with posts and we have been assured that we will get employment soon after graduating,” he said.

“We are willing to get back to work while we continue negotiations on our other concerns.”

Dr Muzvaba said their main hindrance to getting back to work was continual dismissal threats by some clinical directors to some of their colleagues who participated in the strike.

The junior doctors downed tools on Wednesday demanding that Government released their open practice certificates if it could no longer employ them.

While some hospital departments such as casualty and emergency rooms were operating, a few doctors were attending to patients in the wards.

Most affected hospitals were Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, Mpilo Central Hospital and Harare Central Hospital.

Government had announced earlier in the year that all establishments for Government medical officers and hospital medical officers were now filled and it could no longer guarantee employment to all those graduating from the medical school forthwith.

The policy required the junior doctors to work for a year at a district or provincial hospital after completing their two year internship, after which their open practising certificates would be issued, enabling them to look for employment elsewhere.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care has since secured 250 more posts for the doctors and about 2 000 for nurses.

 

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