Source: Govt makes U-turn on doctors repeat training decision | The Herald March 9, 2017
Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Reporter
Hardly 48 hours after awarding junior doctors increased on-call allowances, posts and car loans following a two-week strike, Government has bowed down to the medical practitioners’ demands yet again by reducing the period for repeating practical training. This is after junior doctors threatened another strike over repetition of “rotations” for an additional three months.
Rotation refers to the practical training of medical students during their final years of study where they rotate between different departments of a central hospital.
Ideally, this process takes at least 24 months for one to qualify as a doctor. Following the two-week strike, Government announced that it had added an additional three months.
In an interview with The Herald yesterday after meeting the doctor’s representatives in Harare, Health and Child Care secretary Dr Gerald Gwinji said the doctors “pleaded” for the reduction saying they had already covered much of the training required during the internship before engaging in the industrial action.
However, prior to the meeting, junior doctors had vowed to go back on strike if the decision to add three months of training was not reversed.
Dr Gwinji said considering the fact that they had almost completed their studies when the strike took place, the doctors then “pleaded for mercy”.
“They put in a request that they were at the tail end of their attachment and had already done most of the things hence they pleaded to have the lengthy of the internship reduced from three months to one month,” said Dr Gwinji.
“In considering their plea, we noted that it was not a punishment for engaging in the strike but actually a training requirement that they should complete all their stipulated rotations for them to qualify as a doctor.”
Dr Gwinji said in reversing its decision, Government noted that the doctor’s plea was genuine and straight forward hence those who participated in the strike will repeat rotations by only 26 days.
This means majority of the 2017 class will complete internship on March 31, after which they will be deployed to district hospitals.
Earlier this week, Government had communicated to all chief executive officers that all doctors who took part in the two-week strike must repeat rotations for three months, thus they were now expected to complete internship in May. Dr Gwinji said this decision was purely for training purposes in line with the rules and regulations of training provided for by the University of Zimbabwe’s College of Health Sciences and the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council of Zimbabwe. Junior doctors downed tools on February 15 2017 and resumed work on Monday 6 March 2017 following an agreement reached between them and their employer.
The doctors were demanding an upward review of on call allowances, non-monetary incentives and creation of additional posts for district medical officers.
Government has since increased the doctor’s on call allowances from $288 to $360 per month.
The duty free incentive has been replaced with the employer assisted car loan scheme.
Government has also availed 250 posts for junior doctors.