Service delivery still down at Mpilo in long doctors’ strike aftermath

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

NORMAL services have not been restored at Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo, a government health institution also buffeted by months of a crippling industrial action by doctors over wages.

Government last year dismissed nearly 450 doctors who had adamantly refused to end their job action before their employer could meet their demands.

The doctors finally ended their four month strike begrudgingly last month after failing to convince their employer to meet their demands.

Despite the official ending of the crippling strike, the situation is still far from being normal at the country’s second largest referral hospital.

A visit to the health facility Tuesday revealed that a lot of patients were still not being attended to while the few who were being attended to by mainly nurses were being forced to buy medication at private pharmacies.

“I have been waiting for a doctor since 7am in the morning. There is no doctor to attend to me. Only nurses are attending to patients,” said Remias Ndlovu, who suffers from a lung infection.

During the hospital visit, there were long queues of patients at the Causality and Outpatients departments with nurses mostly attending to them.

One of the patients who was in the queue, Mavis Sigauke said she wanted to be operated on but there were no doctors to perform the surgical service.

“I wanted to have my piles operated on but I have been told to come next week because there are no doctors. I am really in pain and I wanted urgent medical attention,” said Sigauke.

Another patient who preferred anonymity said he was told to buy medication from local private pharmacies.

“I am suffering from ulcers. The nurses are saying they do not have medication and the drugs can only be found at private pharmacies. Now, I am in trouble because I do not have the foreign currency which these pharmacies are charging,” said the patient.

The hospital’s Chief Executive Officer, Leonard Mabande said he was not yet in a position to ascertain how many doctors have returned to work so far, saying authorities were still evaluating the situation.

Mpilo Doctors Association Secretary General, Mthabisi Bhebhe also confirmed to in a telephone interview that although some junior doctors returned to work a month ago, things were still not yet normal at the referral health centre.

A total of 51 junior doctors were fired at the health centre.