Thandeka Moyo, Health Reporter
AN additional 134 doctors have been dismissed by the Health Service Board (HSB), bringing the number of medical practitioners who have lost their jobs due to absenteeism to 211.
Earlier this week, the HSB announced that 77 had been discharged and yesterday it said 134 more had been sacked.
Doctors have not been reporting for duty for more than two months demanding salaries pegged on the interbank rate and the HSB instituted disciplinary hearings that will be concluded next week on Thursday after the medical practitioners defied a labour Court ruling to return to work.
In a statement yesterday, HSB chairperson Dr Paulinus Sikosana said so far 213 hearings have been completed.
“To date, 279 doctors have been served with charge letters, 213 hearings completed and 211 doctors found guilty of absenting themselves from duty without leave or reasonable cause for days ranging from five or more. The 211 doctors found guilty have been discharged from the health service,” said Dr Sikosana.
According to HSB, two doctors had their cases reserved pending verification of their cases.
“In line with section 4 of the Labour Act (National Employment Code of Conduct), the disciplinary hearings will continue, whereby 516 out of 1 601 medical doctors employed in the public sector are expected to appear before the disciplinary tribunals,” he added.
Dr Sikosana said HSB had tried in vain to engage the doctors via their representatives, the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association (ZHDA).
“Cognisant of the need for continuous dialogue with its employees, on 10 October 2019, the Health Service Board met with both the Senior and Junior doctors. On 29 October 2019, the HSB again met the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association (ZHDA) in the presence of the Executive Director for the Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) where the ZHDA presented a position paper,” said Dr Sikosana.
“Again, the ZHDA demanded the pegging of their salaries to the prevailing interbank rate as a precondition for their return to work.”
In response to the dismissal, the ZHDA said by firing their members, the HSB was shooting itself in the foot.
“This shocking decision and direct affrontation to the doctoring profession shows clearly that they don’t care about the suffering masses of our people and the ordinary citizens who rely on Government hospitals for healthcare.
“This move has come without solutions but as an exacerbation to the current ongoing impasse and it’s a clear reflection of how the Health Service Board continues to negotiate in bad faith,” read a statement from ZHDA.
The association said its members will not be intimidated or deterred from demanding a living wage. – @thamamoe.