The Health Services Board (HSB) is likely to commence disciplinary hearings against doctors who ignored last Friday’s Labour Court ruling ordering them to return to work within 48 hours.
This followed revelations that the provision for arbitration in the ruling was based on the doctors’ return to work, which they defied.
Furthermore, striking doctors who spend more than 30 days without reporting for work were not paid October salaries.
Speaking from Harare Central Hospital where he was assessing the situation, including availability of medicines and equipment, Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said Government was still open for dialogue and would want the striking doctors to return to work while negotiations continue.
“The arbitration process as of today, I have been advised by the Attorney-General that, because the doctors did not meet the deadline, they didn’t turn up for work, so that provision now falls away,” said Dr Moyo.
He said Government will continue to be guided by the law in its quest to address the impasse with the doctors.
“The HSB will now look at its regulations and we just follow the law,” said Dr Moyo.
“We cannot do anything that is outside the law.”
In relation to payment of striking doctors’ salaries, Dr Moyo said Government paid everyone who reported for work and will be paying the 60 percent adjustment to the same doctors before the end of the month.
“Government has already made an obligation and commitment of paying the 60 percent increase towards health specific allowances and naturally if people are at work, they will benefit from that,” he said.
“The 60 percent adjustments are there for all those who are working, so while you are at work you get your money and while at work you can also negotiate for adjustments.”
Dr Moyo could not immediately provide details of the number of doctors who have taken heed of the Labour Court ruling to return to work within the 48-hour period, saying figures have been fluctuating.
“We are not at the optimum as you can see that is why I keep calling on the doctors to return to work, but I understand Chitungwiza Central Hospital has been admitting more patients from what I have been told and I am going to verify that,” said Dr Moyo.
Commenting on the status of drugs and equipment, Dr Moyo said Government has released a further US$2 million for replenishment of medicines.
“NatPharm keeps coming to replenish medicines, yes there are some medicines for chronic illnesses which we need to really top up, but that is under control, an order has already been placed so we are expecting that delivery,” said Dr Moyo.
He said deployment of equipment to institutions was also progressing well with the first phase having been completed.