More than 200 medical doctors have been fired by the Health Services Board (HSB) for not turning up for duty without leave or reasonable cause for days ranging from five consecutive days or more.
The 211 doctors have not been reporting for duty since the 3rd of September 2019 and they refused to heed an ultimatum to return to work after losing their case at the labour court in October 2019.
The court ruled that the strike was illegal and ordered the junior and middle-level doctors to return to work within 48 hours after the judgement.
There are 1,601 doctors on the government’s payroll and 516 are facing disciplinary hearings for being absent from work.
So far 279 doctors have been served with letters to attend the disciplinary hearings but the majority of them have boycotted the tribunals.
By this Friday, the HSB had concluded 213 hearings with 211 doctors being found guilty of absent from work without leave or reasonable cause.
Only three turned up for the hearings, and judgement for two 2 of those who appeared in person has been reserved, pending verification of some information that they supplied.
On the 10th of October 2019, the HSB held a meeting with Senior and Junior doctors but failed to reach a consensus.
On 29th of the same month, the HSB again, met the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctor’s Association (ZHDA) in the presence of the Executive Director for the Community Working Group on Health (CWGH), Mr Itayi Rusike and the doctors presented a position paper, with among other demands, the pegging of their salaries to the prevailing interbank rate as a precondition for them to return to work.
In line with section 4 of the Labour Act (National Employment Code of Conduct), the disciplinary hearings will continue, and 516 out of the 1,601 medical doctors employed in the public sector are expected to appear before the disciplinary tribunals.
Meanwhile, the situation in the country’s public hospitals remains challenging, with available doctors giving priority to emergency cases.