Striking doctor’s to learn fate this Friday
The ongoing impasse between doctors and the Health Service Board (HSB) has laid bare the need for a compromise by the two parties amid revelations that demands for interbank-rated salaries and on-call allowances will push the salary bill to as high as $4 billion a month.
The deadlock between doctors and their employer has stretched for almost two months and there are no signs that the stalemate will end anytime soon.
After a Labour Court ruling that declared the strike illegal, some doctors have remained defiant to the HSB, which now leads to the last option of proceeding with disciplinary hearings which are set to commence on Friday.
“We have had a number of meetings with both junior and senior doctors to try and resolve this issue, however, their stance has been uncompromising. They are demanding that their on-call and salaries be paid at the interbank rate. Let me give you an example, currently, the salary bill for the Ministry of Health is $430 million per month, and even if we use the minimalist interbank rate of 10, the salary bill will rise to $4 billion per month. In terms of the Labour Act, the HSB is mandated to follow the rule of law. The act provides for disciplinary hearings to proceed, even in absentia, by those who are supposed to appear,” said HSB Chairperson, Dr Paulinas Sikhosana.
Several meetings have been held by the HSB and the doctors, but the dialogue has failed to yield any positive results.
While the deadlock continues, it is the patient who is bearing the brunt.
A visit to the Out-Patients Department (OPD) at the biggest referral hospital in the country, Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, this Monday, showed empty benches and empty consultation rooms.
Some patients with chronic diseases or conditions that require periodic reviews have since stopped coming, while those who turn up hoping for the best leave disappointed as they return home unattended.
Julius Murungweni dislocated his arm and has been coming to the OPD section every Monday for the past two weeks where luckily he has been partially attended to.
However, his arm requires casting, but he has been told to come back on 27 January next year.
There is, however, a ray of hope as senior doctors have now formed their own association called the Senior Hospital Doctors Association (SHDA), with Dr Audrey Shingai Nyaguse as the President.
This comes at a time when the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA), which represents the junior doctors has pulled out of the Health Apex Council.
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