PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has finally agreed terms with striking medical staff in a move that will see the cash-strapped administration incur millions of dollars in unbudgeted additional labour costs.
Following the deal, junior doctors have announced an end to their month-long job action which has crippled the delivery of health services in the country’s public hospitals.
According to the settlement between the doctors and the under- Health Services Board, government finally relented and agreed to increase the sticking on-call allowances.
“Review of on-call allowance rate for junior doctors from the current framework of $5 per hour on the basis of a capped 72 hours per month to $7.50 per hour on the basis of a maximum of 160 working hours per month.
“This will be paid on an unclaimable basis at the rate of $1200 per month for the Junior Doctor,” the agreement reads in part.
Junior doctors and nurses have been on strike for the whole of March leading to an announcement early this week that Parirenyatwa and Harare hospitals, the country’s two biggest referral medical institutions had effectively shut their doors to the public.
Mnangagwa has been at the sharp end of public anger for failing to resolve the issue amid demands from the medical personnel for Health Minister David Parirenyatwa and the Health Services Board to be relieved of their duties.
The new Zimbabwean leader last week appealed to the medical doctors to return to work while their grievances were being addressed, but the request was rejected outright on the basis that minister Parirenyatwa had chosen to lie about the situation in the dire public health sector.
According to the deal, signed by that representatives from both sides, nurses at rural health centres will also be getting more allowances while night duty stipends have also been reviewed upwards.
“The offer reviews the on-call allowance sliding scale rate from the current level of $216-$504 per month to $720-$1680 per month entailing mobilisation of additional resources of around $2.1 million per month.
“Night duty allowance be reviewed from current claimable sliding rate of $61-$91 per set of 7 days to an unclaimable sliding scale rate from $217-$303 per month. The proposed review entails mobilisation of additional resources amounting to around $866 000 per month,” the agreement shows.
“Standby or call-out allowance to nurses stationed at rural health centres has been adjusted from a claimable rate of $72 per week to an unclaimable $240 per month limited to a maximum of two weeks.”
Salaries for nurses have also been reviewed upwards depending on their qualifications, including medical allowances with the increments requiring fresh resources of over $1.3 million a month.
Government, according to the deal which is effective April 1st, will also begin “correction of grading” within the civil service.