Source: Doctors in no show despite deal – Sunday News Mar 18, 2018
Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter
DOCTORS at Bulawayo’s two major hospitals, Mpilo Central and United Bulawayo Hospitals had by yesterday not returned to work despite the Government announcing that it had struck a deal with the health professionals to end the industrial action.
The Health Services Board had announced on Friday that Government had struck a deal with the doctors via the Health Services Bipartite Negotiating Panel (HSBNP) to end the industrial action. The board said a collective bargaining agreement was signed which offered additional benefits to health workers from next month effectively ending the impasse.
However, Sunday News visited the two major hospitals yesterday and doctors and officials confirmed that doctors had not returned to work. Mpilo Central Hospital clinical director Mr Solwayo Ngwenya said the institution was in the dark over the proposed deal.
“We are surprised that there is this development. We are not aware of it and that is why most of our staff are still on strike. I am telling you facts on the ground as we speak. We last saw them on Friday last week when they came to demonstrate outside,” he said.
Mr Ngwenya said the institution was still operating without middle and junior doctors as well as some nurses who have also joined the strike.
He said critical areas like the Intensive Care Unit, children’s hospital, maternity and casualty were being manned by senior doctors and some nurses.
At United Bulawayo Hospitals, Sunday News also heard that the doctors had not reported for work. Although an official comment could not be obtained from the chief executive officer Mrs Nonhlanla Ndlovu and clinical director Dr Nacisaus Dzvanga, sources at the institution said doctors had not reported for work.
“We have not heard anything about our grievances being attended to, we have not been communicated to here in Bulawayo, that is why we are still on strike. The challenge is that they always promise and they do not live up to their promises,” said a doctor who declined to be named for fear of victimisation.
Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa told Sunday News last night that it was now up to the Health Services Board to order doctors to return to work.
“It is important to note that there is a negotiating forum that is there where doctors and nurses work and they have to either come to an agreement or not. They then give us feedback on their negotiations, they report to us. The right person to then talk to is Dr (Lovemore) Mbengeranwa (HSB chairman),” he said.
Efforts to get Dr Mbengeranwa were fruitless as he was not answering his phone. According to the agreement which was struck via the HSBNP the Government and the health workers signed a collective bargaining agreement offering additional benefits to health workers from next month.
The Health Services Board (HSB) said on-call, night duty and standby/call allowances have been reviewed by 50 percent while a post basic allowance for nursing staff who acquire approved additional qualifications up to a maximum of two qualifications has been reintroduced.
The Government also said it introduced a Nurse Managers Allowance in addition of the added responsibility. The strike started at the beginning of this month, with junior doctors protesting over locum payments, a motor vehicle scheme, availability of equipment and medicines at hospitals, staff establishment and a review of various other allowances.