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Gvt Turns To Arbitration To Resolve Doctors Impasse

The Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Obadiah Moyo has decided to pursue arbitration following the expiry of the 48 hours ultimatum handed down by the Labour Court for doctors to go back to work.

Addressing the press in the capital yesterday, Dr Moyo said the Labour Court has a provision for arbitration, which the government is now pursuing.

“The process should be done within 14 days. The Labour Court ruling allows for arbitration. There would be an arbitrator, who will be able to oversee negotiations. As part of that arbitration, we should be able to come up with results,” said Dr Moyo.

The arbitration comes as an option after the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) pulled out of the Health Apex Council leaving no platform for engagement with the employer.

The minister said government was still open for negotiations and hoped the arbitration process would break the deadlock.

“The process has to be completed within 14 days from the ruling. We had our team approaching the court to ensure that the process takes place, so this is the best form of negotiation for both parties and I think within 14 days, this whole process should have been completed,” added Moyo.

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The government has engaged local authority health facilities to assist patients until doctors return to work.

The arrangements include beefing up stocks and associated support for the clinics to be able to attend to the overwhelming number of patients, some of whom could have otherwise been treated at central hospitals.

The government has also extended the free blood policy to local authority institutions for access by pregnant mothers in need of it.

“We are planning to empower the hospitals belonging to local authorities, especially in Harare and Bulawayo, and give them as much support as possible because they are becoming overwhelmed,” said Dr Moyo.

Health Services Board (HSB) chairperson Dr Paulinus Sikosana said the government was hoping the junior doctors were going to take heed of the court order and resume their duties.

Meanwhile, Dr Sikosana said the 60 percent adjustment recently awarded by the government to all health workers will not reflect on today’s payslip owing to some delays in the implementation process.

“By the time the adjustments were approved, the Salaries Services Bureau (SSB) had already shut down their payroll for October. We were then advised to seek supplementary funding from Treasury.

“The adjustment will, however, be paid before the end of October and will not reflect on tomorrow’s (today) payslip,” said Dr Sikosana.

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