BY GAMUCHIRAI KANDEYA
Senior Hospital Doctors Association (SHDA) has reacted to the move to fire over 200 doctors by their employer through the Health Services Board (HSB).
In a statement, the doctors said the disciplinary hearings of junior doctors have to come to an immediate ending while those dismissed should be reinstated.
“Junior and middle-level doctors have been dismissed from work for not being able to report for duty due to incapacitation. Some on maternity and some who are training outside the country have also been served with letters accusing them of absenteeism,” read part of the statement by the senior doctors.
They said they had continued to work while they were trying to engage their employer without a breakthrough and as of the 4th of October, they have been unable to c9ontinue offering services.
“Currently, all levels of doctors remain financially incapacitated and the hospitals remain ill-equipped with inadequate drug stocks. Doctors are simply requesting a sustainable living wage according to their grades and a safe, well-resourced working environment.
“Several letters were written from the 9th of September highlighting the constraints being faced with no response from the employer until the 3rd of October, where unfortunately nothing concrete was offered to alleviate the financial plight of doctors or to restock the hospitals,” the statement continued.
The doctors and their representatives have attended a number of meetings with their employer since the 4th of October and one with the minister of health with adjustments made to their salaries having been quickly eroded by inflation.
All promises made by the government have not been fruitful to date, further agitating the doctors who have pledged to support their fired juniors.
Earlier today, in a statement, the HSB said it had fired a total of 211 junior doctors, for having been found guilty through disciplinary hearings as they seek to put to an end, the over 60 day-long strikes by the medical officers.
Health Services Board (HSB) executive chairman, Paulinus Sikosana said the disciplinary hearings were set to continue in accordance with section 4 of the Labour Act (National Employment Code of Conduct).
“The 211 doctors found guilty have been discharged from the health service. Three doctors appeared in person before the disciplinary tribunals and two doctors had their determinations reserved pending verification of their cases,” he said.
Commenting on the issue, CWGH executive chairman, Itai Rusike said the decision by the government was costly as human resources are an essential part of the health service provision system.
“It is uncalled for and quite sad that government has decided to take this position; trying to scare them from exercising their rights. We thought that government was going to set aside those hearings and go the dialogue route and without human resources, we cannot achieve universal health coverage, we can forget about achieving all those targets in health delivery,” he said.
Junior doctors have been on strike since the beginning of September and have stayed put, opting to maintain their position, to get action from their employer on their grievances before they return to work.
Government has used a number of threats as a means to get the doctors to unwillingly return to work before reaching an amicable conclusion with their employer.
The health delivery system in the country has continued to crumble while the ruling elite is on a medical tourism spree in foreign, better-equipped hospitals at the expense of the ordinary citizen depending on public health structures for medical attention.