Senior doctors have expressed their disappointment in the government’s failure to address their “legitimate” demands of sustainable salaries and safe working conditions. They said that senior doctors were not going back to work until the condition of service has been improved.
They speak when the situation in public health institutions is rapidly deteriorating at an unparalleled rate. Medical institutions are now relying on army personnel who stand in for doctors.
Health caregivers went on industrial action on the 3rd of September this year over unsustainable salaries and poor working conditions.
They have so far failed to agree with the government on the best way forward. We present below the Senior Doctors’ letter to the employer. Below is the full text:
Senior Hospital Doctors Association Parirenyatwa Hospital Harare
24 October 2019
Minister of Health and Child Care Kaguvi Building Harare
Reference: Response to your letter reply to our letter regarding incapacitation at the hospitals dated 15 October 2019.
Seniors doctors are disappointed by your response to the communication we have made to you regarding ending the current incapacitation of the hospitals and the doctors, so as to allow patient care to continue.
We take note that no time frame has been set for any correction of the situation. The mentioned timeframe for equipment is vague.
Your letter seems to suggest there is no negotiation forum for Senior Doctors. You would need to qualify yourself.
For the avoidance of any doubt, the Senior Hospital Doctors hereby make it very clear to you that there shall be no meaningful service in hospitals unless the immediate issues we have raised and which we repeat below are attended to:
- Senior doctors want a liveable wage benchmarked to the interbank rate in the same manner that fuel is benchmarked. Goods and services are all pegged to the US dollar making our demand reasonable in order to sustain the service delivery.
- The flexi-hours for nurses and other hospital staff system must be abolished of with immediate effect as it is detrimental to patient care, causing avoidable morbidity and mortality. No hospital can function and be able to offer any services under such arrangements.
- Senior Doctors are NOT RETURNING to work in a flexi-hours system. We need a safe working environment for both patients and health care workers. The hospitals should acquire and be capacitated with medication based on the VEN (Vital-Essential-Necessary) system of EDLIZ as per WHO recommendation for the system to work again. The VEN system should also be applied to equipment. University consultants are supposed to be paid their Health Specific allowance and on-call allowances. They offer services to patients beyond their core University of Zimbabwe work. This issue has to be attended to and they must be paid. You cannot talk about withdrawing salaries when you have not been paying these cadres for services offered over the past many
- As doctors, we work as a team. We need junior and middle-level doctors to be able to function. We are against the victimization of these our junior colleagues through hearings and threats of suspension and yet they are finding it difficult to come to work because of poor earnings. Their incapacitation must be resolved.
- The SHDA finds the withholding of the paltry salaries to be a joke. If there was a salary to talk about, we would have had reason to worry. We hope you shall use the withheld cumulative amount to capacitate the hospitals.
- You have proposed for Public-Private Partnerships as a solution to the current challenges. The senior doctors want to make it clear to you as we hereby do that system is clouded with corruption and takes away health care from the reach of the general public as patients have to pay more for the same service since private partners are driven by profit. We urge you to make public the forensic audit of Chitungwiza hospital regarding this matter.
- Issues of hospital equipment and consumables should be dealt with at hospital levels with direct involvement of end users. The micromanagement of hospitals currently taking place where lists are requested from individuals by the Ministry is unacceptable. End users must be able to have input into acceptance of donated equipment as well. The procurement of equipment for use by people outside the places of use is the reason for the acquisition of wrong equipment and opens up the whole process to corruption.
It is our view that the government is currently committing a silent genocide by casting a blind eye to the current incapacitation in hospitals.
May we remind you of the constitutional mandate of the Government as spelt out in Section 29 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe of 2013.
Senior Doctors have expressed their desire to meet their Minister of Health and Child Care so that they can express themselves to him directly.
We look forward to hearing from you regarding the requested meeting.
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