Doctors, Nurses Barred From Striking For More Than Three Days
DOCTORS and nurses working in public health institutions will no longer be allowed to go on strike for an uninterrupted period spanning for more than three days under proposed changes to the Health Services Act.
Amendments to the Act, which were gazetted on Friday, once passed, will require healthcare providers to give two days’ notice in writing before embarking on a collective job action The Sunday Mail reports.
In addition, all medical professionals will be required by law to provide care to patients in a medical emergency or needing critical or intensive care during a legal collective job action.
Any worker representative who incites or organises an illegal job action could face up to three years in jail.
Chief director in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Maxwell Hove, said once passed, the law will allow health care workers to strike for only three days per fortnight.
“Healthcare workers will not be able to go on strike for more than three days and will stay at work for a minimum of two weeks before the law allows them go on another three-day strike,” said Dr Hove.
“In each case no strike can go beyond three days and emergencies will also be covered during every strike”.
The amendments seek to replace the Health Services Board with an independent commission — the Health Services Commission — which will among other things create grades in the health service and fix conditions of service for doctors and nurses.
Crucially, the proposed changes will designate health care workers as essential service providers as defined under the Labour Act.
The Labour Act designates any service whose interruption endangers the life, personal safety or health of the whole or any part of the public as an essential service.
The Health Service Commission will be given powers to discipline any medical worker found to be in contravention of the new provisions.
The Commission can also report the offending member to their relevant professional council in terms of the Health Professions Act.
Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina) president Enoch Dongo said there was need for Government to consult health care professionals before enacting the amendments.
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