Nqobile Tshili Bulawayo Bureau
Mpilo Central Hospital will this week fully open the outpatient department as three quarters of junior doctors who were on strike are now back at work.
The hospital’s clinical director Dr Solwayo Ngwenya said 38 of the 51 doctors, who were fired for misconduct, have since returned to work.
“Most of the doctors are back at work. Only 13 out of 51 who were fired are yet to report for duty,” said Dr Ngwenya.
He said the doctors’ return to work will see the biggest referral hospital in the southern region offering more services.
“We are happy that they (junior doctors) have come back because they were not benefiting (from the strike), their training was not going on,” he said.
“It was causing inconvenience to patients. For us, it was our outpatient department which was mainly affected. We are envisaging fully opening up the outpatient department that was partially opened. It was not closed completely. We will probably open it next (this) week when we resume full scale operations.”
Dr Ngwenya said the public will be notified when the outpatient department is fully operational.
The doctors who reported for duty are part of the 448 who were fired by Health Services Board for misconduct, that is missing more than five days of duty without a lawful reason, after disciplinary hearings.
Hearings were conducted after the Labour Court dismissed their strike as illegal, but they remained defiant claiming to be incapacitated and did not report for duty.
The impasse between junior doctors and the Health Services Board was broken when Catholic bishops met with President Mnangagwa.
This resulted in the President issuing a moratorium for them to report for duty within 48-hours without being questioned.
However, some of the doctors remained defiant insisting that they be paid their salaries in foreign currency or equivalent, which the Government said it could not afford.
Some of them only started reporting for duty after the Higher Life Foundation came up with a $100 million fellowship programme to incentivise practitioners in the health sector for between six and 12 months.
HLF last month further launched a crowd funding “support our hospitals” initiative to capacitate public health institutions with requisite materials so that they effectively deliver on their mandate.