DOCTORS at some hospitals including Mpilo Central Hospital yesterday embarked on a strike defying the Minister of Health Child Care Dr David Parirenyatwa who had warned against taking industrial action.
Before going on strike, the doctors petitioned Government to pay them their locum allowances among other issues.
Dr Mxolisi Ngwenya, the spokesperson for the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association, briefly said: “The strike is national.”
However, doctors reported for duty at the United Bulawayo Hospitals yesterday.
On Wednesday, Dr Parirenyatwa said Government was doing its best to address doctors’ grievances hence there was no need for them to go on strike.
The Minister could not be reached on his mobile last night.
In a notice addressed to Mpilo staff, the hospital’s clinical director, Dr Solwayo Ngwenya, advised all members of staff to do all they could to save lives during the strike.
“I hereby advise staff members that doctors have taken industrial action with effect from March 1, 2018. However, we will do all we can to attend to emergencies and continue saving lives,” said Dr Ngwenya.
“We do not condone strikes by doctors and as Mpilo we have taken contingent measures to concentrate on emergencies so that we save lives. I do hope they will suspend the strike quickly while Government addresses their concerns so there is no unnecessary loss of life.”
Yesterday, the doctors handed a letter to Dr Ngwenya, addressed to Dr Parirenyatwa, saying there was lack of urgency in addressing their issues.
“This serves as a notice that with effect from March 1 we will be unable to discharge our normal duties until such a time the ministry decides to prioritise our people’s health. Our locums remain unpaid since October 2017 and we remain severely understaffed. There are no essential drugs and fluids and patients are dying unnecessarily. There has been no written response from you to address this and no tangible efforts,” read the letter.
“Working hours remain ill-defined and at the whim of the admin and our allowances have not been graded as per regional standards, a concern we raised in our letter dated February 5.”
They also said any timetables made without approval and consultation of the doctors’ association will not be adhered to.
Patients who went to the institution were yesterday told to come back some other time or wait for one doctor who was assigned to cover the Casualty Department.
One patient, Ms Sibusisiwe Dube, who suffers from a brain tumour, told The Chronicle that nurses had asked her to come back next week for a check-up as no doctor could attend to her. “I am coming from Mpilo and I was told that doctors are on strike and that they could not help me. I am in constant pain which requires routine check-ups but I couldn’t have one today because there are no doctors,” said Ms Dube.
An official at Mpilo who spoke on condition of anonymity said there was one doctor who was asked to attend to patients at the Casualty.
Doctors petitioned the Minister on February 5, giving Government 21 days to address a number of grievances that include the issue of allowances, vehicles and shortage of medicines and equipment in hospitals.