Following a government directive issued on Saturday advising striking doctors to report for duty this Monday at 8 o’clock in the morning, there was no change at the country’s major hospitals as the doctors did not turn up for work, risking disciplinary action for breaching their contracts.
The situation at the biggest referral hospitals in Bulawayo, United Bulawayo Hospitals and Mpilo hospital has remained the same as the striking doctors failed to turn up for work.
According to authorities at Mpilo Hospital, only seven doctors out of the sixty-four who had been striking had reported for work in the morning.
The hospital has a total of two hundred and four doctors. one hundred and thirty-five are present, nine are on leave and one resigned and there is only one senior resident medical officer.
While government has been pointing at the urgency for doctors to resume duties citing the risk this poses to thousands of patients seeking treatment, Mpilo Hospital has managed to maintain its day to day normal functions so far.
Monday marks day 37 of the doctor’s nationwide declared incapacitation on the grounds that their salaries had lost buying power by 1 500%.
They have scaled down operations and are providing emergency hospital services only as a way of trying to force their employer to concede to their demands.
One of the reasons cited by doctors is that their remuneration is not in line with comparative remuneration trends in the region and their employer the Health Service Board indicated that the amounts mentioned in the memo by senior doctors are not reflective of the true picture.
Last Friday, parties to the health service bipartite negotiating panel agreed to a 60% increment on health sector specific allowances but the doctors’ representatives turned down the offer.
Addressing a media briefing at Munhumutapa buildings on Saturday, Health and Child Care Minister, Dr Obediah Moyo, warned doctors who fail to comply that they will be in breach of their contracts of employment and will face disciplinary action.
He said the caution is for all categories of doctors including those who fall under the Ministry of Health and Child Care as well as university consultants.
The Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education has been told to take appropriate action if any of their medical students do not comply while the Health Services Board has also been instructed to take relevant disciplinary action in terms of the provisions of the Labour Act.