Home » Health Services » Outcry Over Junior Doctors’ New Contracts

THE Health Services Board (HSB) has introduced labour contracts for intern doctors in the country as means of instilling discipline and ensuring that medical students on housemanship abide by a strict code of conduct.

HSB public relations executive Nyasha Maravanyika said the introduction of the contracts only applied to student doctors and not full professionals.

“In the past, student doctors on housemanship did not have contracts for the two years they would be attached at various hospitals. It’s a privilege that we have been giving them,” he said.

“What we are saying now is that you are still students on training, and we are introducing a framework like the one for student nurses, whereby they sign contracts and work according to terms.”

Maravanyika said they realised in the past that some student doctors were spending as many as five years on internship yet they were supposed to do just two years.

He said they were trying to curb that trend by ensuring that they completed their courses on time.

“We just want to bring order into the system and seriousness on the part of medical students,” he said.

But the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) said the Ministry of Health and Child Care — through the HSB — wanted “to introduce a draconian contract for junior doctors” which did not have the input of the doctors.

ZHDA spokesperson, Francis Rwodzi said the new contracts did not stipulate how much a doctor earned and did not provide for a salary when female doctors go on maternity leave during internship and there was no guarantee of the payment of on-call allowance.

“According to the new contract a doctor can now be fired once the government gives one month notice of termination,” he said. “Where on earth have young doctors been employed as contract workers without the benefits of being permanent workers? This dull move is also being implemented against the background of the country only having produced 60 doctors this year out if a class of 100 possible graduates.”

Rwodzi appealed to President Robert Mugabe to intervene saying the new contracts were unilaterally drafted and approved by one party, the HSB.

But Maravanyika dismissed the claims and said consultations were done at all levels before the decision to draft the contracts was implemented.

“Consultations were done with the Attorney General’s office and the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council of Zimbabwe,” he said.

“The Medical School at the University of Zimbabwe as well as central and provincial hospital administrations were all consulted.”

Source : Zimbabwe Standard