Zimbabwe

Normalcy returns to hospitals

Mukudzei Chingwere

Herald Reporter

All major hospitals are now back to normal with almost all nurses adhering to standard duty rosters and the small minority refusing to comply being removed from the payroll and facing disciplinary action.

While the Zimbabwe Nurses Association is still claiming nurses are financially incapacitated, the chief executives of the major hospitals are reporting full turn outs of nursing staff or close to that with some having no staff facing any disciplinary action.

Last week, the Health Services Board (HSB) removed 1 032 nurses from its pay sheets after they refused to resume normal working hours, and disciplinary hearings are starting this week.

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The removal from the payroll is a normal result of industrial action, that those who do not work are not paid. This is regardless of the legality of any industrial action.

A variety of penalties are possible in disciplinary hearings depending on charges and circumstances, including dismissal.

There have been suggestions that some of these nurses could be placed on fixed-term contracts if they return as part of a proposed restructuring of the public health sector. Investigations by The Herald have discovered that some Government nurses not reporting for duty or not working full hours have in fact a second job, but have never resigned and continued benefiting from two employers.

Acting chief executive for Mpilo Central Hospital, Professor Solwayo Ngwenya, said “100 percent of all those expected on duty” were now coming to work.

“There was marked improvement just after the memo cancelling flexi-hours, and a further one after nurses started receiving disciplinary letters. Around 200 have been removed from the payroll pending disciplinary action.”

Chitungwiza Central Hospital spokesperson Mrs Audrey Tasaranarwo said all nurses were back at work and none had to be removed from pay sheets or subpoenaed for a disciplinary hearing with that hospital’s chief executive having held discussions with staff before the latest action last week and getting a unanimous return to duty.

“Nurses at our hospital are reporting for duty. Soon after the strike they all reported for duty,” she said.

“No one was affected because the chief executive officer had a meeting with nurses. So all nurses reported for duty.”

Sally Mugabe Central Hospital acting chief executive Dr Christopher Pasi said most nurses are back at work.

“The majority are back at work. But as is now public knowledge there is a disciplinary process underway for what transpired during the week 26-30 October. Any further information regarding that process can be obtained from HSB,” said Dr Pasi.

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Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals spokesperson Mr Linos Dhire said nurses had resumed duties.

Gweru Provincial Hospital (GPH) met teaching hospital requirements following its partnership with Midlands State University to train doctors, and its new central hospital status is now expected to be formalised.

Medical superintendent at GPH Dr Fabian Mashingaidze said the hospital is operating normally and none of its staff had defied Government’s call.

ZiNa secretary-general Mr Enock Dongo  said nothing has changed in terms of their remuneration that warrants nurses to return normal service.

HERALD