NURSES at Marondera Provincial Hospital have rapped their employer, the Health ministry, for cancelling flexi hours on Monday without any consultations.
BY BRENNA MATENDERE
Early this year, the Health Services Board and the unions representing nurses entered into an agreement allowing underpaid health workers across the country to work two days a week.
The arrangement was arrived at as a compromise after nurses had downed tools due to poor salaries eroded by inflation.
In a letter dated April 20 addressed to Marondera Provincial Hospital, Mashonaland East provincial medical director Simukai Zizhou cancelled that arrangement.
The letter, seen by NewsDay, read: “To ensure that there is continuity in service provision and adequate coverage, the interim arrangement of flexible hours for all staff categories at your institution has been cancelled indefinitely.
“Please be advised that all members of staff are supposed to return to work and resume normal duties with immediate effect.”
Contacted for comment, Zizhou said his directive was justified.
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“Firstly, the nurses at Marondera Provincial Hospital were not following properly the schedule of flexi hours and stay away from work on more days than supposed to be. You actually could see one nurse in a ward with the rest being student nurses, so we had to correct that,” he said.
“Secondly, we need to ensure adequate staff of qualified nurses is there at hospital to help fight COVID-19 cases.
The nurses can’t continue to allege incapacitation because as of last week, they received COVID-19 allowances which are 55% of their salaries and we also have a bus that ferries them to work daily.”
Zimbabwe Professional Nurses Union secretary-general Douglas Chikobvu said Zizhou had erred.
“The nurses have been shocked by the grave miscalculation on how we can combat this global challenge which is a highly infectious disease. The memo totally doesn’t take into consideration that the 1-2 day per week working schedule is implemented countrywide at various institutions of care and is also meant to reduce exposure time to healthcare staff on possible COVID-19 cases, but someone just chooses to compromise the health of our fellow nurses,” he said.
“Sadly, these institutions have close to nothing in terms of personal protective clothing but Zizhou seems unaware where we are coming from, where we are and where we are going. This decision comes when nurses are haunted daily as they continue to discharge their duties without adequate PPE&C [personal protective equipment and clothing].
“We totally condemn the move at all costs and clearly state that the memo is absolutely impractical. As a nurses union, we totally register our displeasure as administrative machinations take toll and continue to be perpetrated against fellow nurses.”