Junior doctors turn to clinical directors

HARARE - Junior doctors have turned to clinical directors to help them past their contract impasse with the Health Services Board (HSB).

The junior doctors were availed a revised contract by the HSB last week but rejected it on the grounds that it was a one-sided document that violates fair labour practices and existed only to serve the employer.

And as the impasse between junior doctors and the HSB persists, some hospitals have been forced to close certain wings putting the lives of thousands in danger.

But while acknowledging the changes made to the amended contract, there was unanimous agreement that the document was “fundamentally flawed”.

“Our current collective position is that we are willing to go to work as soon as possible for the benefit of the patients, we request that the HSB shelves this extra draconian document they have introduced until such a time they have gone through bipartite channels to re-introduce it and through communications with our representative body,” a communiqué from one of the meetings read.

“The document is elegant and detailed when prescribing punishment and our responsibilities but vague on our conditions of service and remuneration.

“It doesn’t say how many hours we are supposed to work per week, how much if ever we are going to be paid in the second year.

The junior doctors charged that the HSB is bent on controlling them “even when we have gone home but do not even attempt to make our stay in the wards enjoyable.”

However, the meetings revealed that clinical directors were willing to assist the junior doctors resolve the impasse so as to resume work and assist the intensive care units of health care institutions which are currently understaffed.

The dispute between junior doctors and government over new contracts has escalated with emergency cover being withdrawn from State-run health institutions.

That decision means junior doctors are not staffing A&E (accident and emergency) units, intensive care, emergency surgery or other areas of life or death care.

“The clinical directors said they were negotiating for payment of salaries during repeat rotations unless the reasons for repeating are as a result of misconduct in which repeating a rotation is a disciplinary issue,” the communiqué read.

Ministry of Health permanent secretary Gerald Gwinji had hoped the adjusted contract which was sent to the chief executive officers of central hospitals would bring back health institutions to normalcy.

However, it seems the storm is far from over.

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