Govt urged to address nurses, doctors’ grievances

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THE Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) has urged government to provide decent and fair working conditions in the health sector to avoid unnecessary conflicts between healthcare workers.

This comes as doctors and nurses last week clashed over working hours after the latter complained that doctors are not reporting for duty as much as expected, leaving all the work to nurses.

In an interview with the Daily News yesterday, CWGH director Itai Rusike has attributed the rift between members of the two professions to the exclusion of nurses in the Higher Life Foundation(HLF) package.

Rusike, however, said government should now come in and address health workers’ poor working conditions and should not expect the HLF to cater for all workers’ salaries.

“The selective award of allowances to health workers has a demoralising effect on those that do not receive them, particularly in circumstances where the working hours and conditions are similar.

“The fact that nurses are now demanding a similar rescue package arrangement demonstrates that the Higher Life Foundation arrangement is a stop-gap measure as the humanitarian foundation cannot fund salaries for all the health workers. That still remains the responsibility of the government,” Rusike said.

The CWGH director said government should come up with retention strategies targeting all staff categories, including those in training institutions.

HLF recently offered doctors a $100 million fellowship programme that will see them getting salaries ranging between $5 000 and $10 000 for 12 months in a bid to end a four-month strike that was crippling the health sector.

Nurses have complained that despite being capacitated, doctors are bunking work, thereby contributing to the collapse of the health sector.

“Go and do the rounds right now and you will find the junior doctors already gone. The law says they are supposed to work for eight hours. Patients with emergency situations die before doctors even arrive.

“You go to district hospitals; a doctor is in on Monday and not there on Tuesday. They know themselves. They are paid for working 24/7 but they do not come everyday,” Zimbabwe Nurses Association president Enock Dongo said.

Progressive Doctors Association of Zimbabwe secretary-general Sitshengisani Vuma, on the other hand, said the allegations raised by nurses are misguided statements meant to cause unnecessary fights between the two professions.

“These fights, if allowed to come to life, are what might compromise patient care. Ask the patients in the ward whether doctors are attending to them or not. Doctors investigate, diagnose and synthesise the management.

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“The nurses then come in to make sure the medications are given. So that being said, not all doctors are expected to be in the ward throughout the day but we always leave some on standby in case of an emergency in each ward,” Vuma added.

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