Government is calling on some doctors, who went on strike yesterday, to return to work as it looks into their grievances. Some doctors went on strike yesterday even though the law prohibits them from embarking on industrial action as they provide essential services.
Reports say 35 out of 237 doctors went on strike at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals despite Government recently availing $10 million to meet some of their demands that include motor vehicles.
In a joint statement last night, Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa and the Health Services Board said: “Through Statutory Instrument 111 of 2006, the Health Service Board, as the employer has put in place a framework — the Health Service Bipartite Negotiating Panel (BNP), which guides discussion of all the conditions of service and other issues of mutual interest to both the employer and the employees.
“Following submissions by the ZHDA to the Minister of Health and Child Care through a letter dated February 5, 2018, highlighting their grievances, which included locum payments, motor vehicle scheme, availability of equipment and medicines at hospitals, staff establishment, freeze of vacant positions and review of various allowances, government has been attending to these issues.”
The employer said it addressed a number of issues raised by its employees at an Extraordinary BNP meeting on February 16, 2018.
These included the need for ensuring continuity of health services through the issuance of a revised Locum Policy Circular Number 1 of 2018 covering all health-workers in January 2018 that should improve the management of locum and, therefore, ensure availability of staff at all times.
Payment started reflecting on the February 2018 payroll.
It was also agreed that due to the essential nature of health services, some critical staff may be required to report for duty at odd hours.
“BNP agreed to a scheme to address the transport requirements for health-workers,” reads the joint statement. “Following this agreement, Government recently allocated US$10million for the operationalisation of the scheme.
“This information was communicated to the ZHDA representatives at the Extraordinary BNP meeting of 16 February 2018. It is Government position that doctors’ posts have never been frozen. The ZHDA representatives were informed at the BNP meeting of 13 February 2018 that posts are available for the uptake of all doctors completing internship in 2018. Government is aware that 160 doctors will be completing their internship in 2018,” reads the joint statement.
There are 235 vacancies for Government medical officers and hospital medical officers nationwide.
“At the BNP meeting of February 13, 2018, Government advised workers’ representatives of plans to unfreeze critical vacant posts of other health cadres,” stated the employer.
“Consultations are underway to identify the critical posts. Workers’ representatives have been requested to assist in the identification of such posts, through the BNP.
These and other issues are under discussion within the framework of the BNP and there has been no declaration of a deadlock on any of the issues.”
Government also contends that although general service provision remains less than the desired optimum, it has provided essential equipment and sundries through various channels, including its own recurrent and capital budget, US$100 million Chinese loan facility for equipment, support through the Global Fund, UNFPA, JICA, USAID/CDC, Health Development Fund and other partners.
It is striving for further improvements in consolidating the availability of the tools of the trade.
“The HSB continues to engage all stakeholders in an effort to continuously improve the conditions of service for all health-workers,” said the employer. “The withdrawal of labour by some members of the ZHDA is, therefore, in complete disregard of the existing negotiation framework and those members are, therefore, urged to return to their workstations immediately.”