Chronicle Reporter/Harare Bureau
Government is working on modalities to normalise the situation at public hospitals following the dismissal of 77 doctors that had embarked on an illegal strike over the past two months.
This was said by Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa while addressing the media after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting.
“Cabinet was informed by the Minister of Health and Child Care (Dr Obadiah Moyo) that the public hospitals medical doctors’ strike has now gone beyond 63 days. Medical services at most
central hospitals therefore remain constrained.
“The situation is being exacerbated by City of Harare nurses, who have since stopped reporting for duty, citing incapacitation,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said the disciplinary hearings for the striking doctors by the Health Service Board (HSB) had been held on November 1, resulting in the dismissal of 77 doctors.
She assured the public that necessary measures were being instituted to ensure the situation in the health sector returns to normal in the shortest possible time.
Dr Moyo echoed similar sentiments, saying they were looking at ways of ensuring that hospitals provide services to patients.
“We are looking at the possibilities of ensuring that we provide an appropriate service. That is all I can say at the moment. We should be able to provide a service as we proceed and know exactly who wants to work and who doesn’t want to work.
“But for now, the situation is that there are no doctors coming to work except for those, whom we are grateful for, who are providing emergency cover. So that’s the situation,” said Dr Moyo.
The HSB, which is the employer of doctors, said those fired were found guilty of contravening labour laws following the declaration of their incapacitation.
In a statement yesterday, HSB chairperson Dr Paulinus Sikosana said the board will continue with disciplinary hearings which will be completed by mid this month.
“Following the medical doctors’ defiance of the Labour Court ruling of 11 October 2019 to return to work, 80 doctors have to date gone through disciplinary hearings.
“They are charged in terms of section 4 of the Labour, Regulations, Statutory Instrument 15 of 2006,” read the statement.
“After hearings, 77 of these 80 doctors were found guilty of absenting themselves from duty without leave or reasonable cause for days ranging from five or more and discharged from the health service.”
Dr Sikosana said the concerned doctors will be receiving their letters of discharge beginning yesterday.
“All the doctors who have so far been served with charge letters and summoned to the hearings exercised their right not to be present at the hearings. The disciplinary hearings are continuing and are expected to be concluded by 15 November 2019,” said Dr Sikosana.
Doctors stopped reporting for work on September 3 citing incapacitation and demanding a cost of living adjustment at interbank rate.
The rest of the health workers accepted Government’s offer serve for the doctors who exited the Health Apex Council citing “uniqueness” of their job.
Since then, the doctors have not been reporting for work despite the Labour Court ruling, which declared their mass job action as illegal and ordered them to report for work within 48 hours from the date of the ruling.
In its ruling, the Labour Court also referred their dispute for arbitration a process of which was supposed to happen while they are at work.