GOVERNMENT has approved the principles of the the new Health Services Amendment Bill which only allows aggrieved health workers to go on strike for a few hours, a Cabinet official said on Tuesday.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
The legislation with principles approved by Cabinet forbids indefinite job action by health workers. During a post cabinet press briefing, Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said they will not tolerate an industrial action which at the end of the day endangers the lives of patients.
The Bill will make sure that the collective bargaining job action cannot be an indefinite exercise as it will endanger people’s lives. So there will be defined period of time where people can voice their concerns.
“But not indefinitely,” he said adding that, “maybe a matter of hours and making sure that it will not be forever because patients will die. That is the bottom line.”
He urged health workers to be responsible and opt for dialogue rather than confrontational engagements which will result in loss of lives in health institutions.
“We really have to make sure that while we will be allowing people to express themselves, they should do that in a correct and responsible manner realising that at the end of the day, you are looking after patients,” Dr Moyo said.
Dr Moyo said the Bill ensures speedy negotiations between health care workers and the Commission.
“The fact that there is going to be a commission will strengthen the fact that the health workers are also in a position to respect their own profession. Government is respecting the profession of health workers, that is why we are also coming up with the commission.
“There will be an opportunity for healthcare personnel to look after or be composing that healthcare service commission. So this is a very good move. It’s a plus for the health care service,” he said.
He added that it will align all the ideas and the expectations of the healthcare workers.
“But on top of it, it will ensure there is timeous delivery of requests by the healthcare workers. From the health workers to the Commission with immediate answers because there will be more access. We will be able to get rid of that panacea effect which has been taking this long. So I think this something worthwhile and this was as a request from the healthcare workers themselves,” the Health Minister said.
Since 1992, there was a commission formed to look at healthcare services. The commission recommended that there should be a health services commission.
“And before that I am told that in the early 1920s there was also that request. And finally government has seen it fit that the commission must be put in place for the benefit of operations of healthcare delivery in Zimbabwe,” Dr Moyo said.
Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the Bill seeks to designate Health services as an essential service and emergency critical care as an essential services that should be provided for at all times.