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Confusion over nurses suspension


THERE is confusion in the handling of the cases of over 1 000 nurses whose suspension was ordered by government as some health institutions are reportedly reinstating them.

BY Richard Muponde/Vanessa Gonye

About 1 280 nurses were suspended by the Health Service Board and removed from the payroll pending disciplinary hearings after they failed to report for duty protesting the Health and Child Care ministry’s decision to scrap flexi working hours arrangement.

Vice-President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga and Health secretary Jasper Chimedza had directed provincial medical directors to cancel the flexi hour system and revert back to the normal working hours.

However, nurses pleaded incapacitation and lack of personal protective equipment, which they said exposed them to COVID-19.

In Bulawayo, close to 500 nurses at the city’s two major hospitals, Mpilo Central and United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH), are supposed to undergo disciplinary hearing.

Nurses at the two health institutions reported for the disciplinary hearing last week in the company of their lawyers, but officials reportedly suspended the process.

Mpilo has reportedly reinstated the nurses while UBH is said to have continued to issue suspension letters, some with wrong dates.

UBH chief executive Narcisus Dzvanga yesterday said: “I am not aware of that (reinstatement of nurses at Mpilo). We are all managed by the HSB and ministry.”

A source at the institution, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said their colleagues at Mpilo had returned to work, but UBH was adamant.

“They suspended hearings when we came with our lawyers last Wednesday. We had hoped that we would return to work like our colleagues at Mpilo. We were surprised to see management continuing issuing suspension letters, some of which have wrong dates,” a nurse said. Government suspended 266 nurses at UBH and 211 at Mpilo.

At Sally Mugabe Central Hospital in Harare, it is alleged that the affected nurses were told to resume duty, but were still to receive their salaries.

“I am one of them, some were given letters and during the process, they just stopped issuing letters, telling us to return to work. We did, but there is a rumour that we were removed from the payroll,” the source said.

Another source said the issue was being treated differently from hospital to hospital, with Chitungwiza Central Hospital having “protected” its staff from suspension.

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