Paidamoyo Chipunza and Farirai Machivenyika
Government is working to normalise the situation at public hospitals following the dismissal of 77 doctors who went on an illegal strike recently. This was disclosed 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 disciplinary hearings for the striking doctors by the Health Services Board (HSB) were held on November 1, resulting in the dismissal of 77 doctors.
She assured the public that measures were being taken to ensure normalcy returns in the shortest possible time.
Dr Moyo echoed similar sentiments, saying they were looking at ways to ensure 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.
HSB chairman Dr Paulinus Sikosana also confirmed the dismissals in a statement yesterday.
He said the doctors were being charged in terms of Section 4 of the Labour (National Employment Code of Conduct), Regulations, Statutory Instrument 15 of 2006 (the Code).
“Seventy-seven of the 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,” said Dr Sikosana.
He said the HSB will continue with the hearings that are expected to be concluded by November 15, 2019.
The strike was declared illegal by the Labour Court early last month and the doctors were ordered to return to work within 48 hours, but they ignored the ruling.
The doctors also boycotted the disciplinary hearings.