Jubilee Hospital doctors halt strike

Doctors at the Jubilee Hospital in North West have agreed to stop striking, but at George Mukhari Hospital outside Pretoria, army doctors will stay in place to help, Gauteng’s health department said on Tuesday.

While Gauteng health minister Brian Hlongwa appreciated the reasons why doctors would want to strike at the hospitals north and north-west of Pretoria, the law had to be respected.

“This, regrettably, has not been the mentality of doctors from Dr George Mukhari Hospital,” he said in a statement.

After “painstaking” attempts at resolving the situation the department decided to issue letters of dismissal to the striking public sector doctors.

After these letters were handed out, doctors at Jubilee Hospital decided to go back to work.

A total of 336 doctors from Mukhari hospital and 24 from Jubilee were under consideration for dismissal.

To help army doctors at the George Mukhari Hospital, the department had also seconded doctors based at head and regional offices.

“A heartfelt thank you from me goes to the defence force doctors who put patients first and decided not to strike and all other health workers that have been holding the fort,” he said.

Meanwhile, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) appealed to doctors to return to work, even though they agreed that talks over their occupation specific dispensation (OSD) were taking too long.

They believed that the doctors should return to work, even though their working conditions and pay were poor, and to give negotiations a chance.

“The union salutes these selfless and dedicated workers who dedicate their lives to deliver healthcare to the poor and the working class,” said Nehawu in a statement.

“The Department of Health has to take full responsibility for everything that is happening and the union is surprised that the department always blames the shortage of skills for poor services in hospitals, yet it is not creating conducive working environment for its workers.”

Like the Democratic Nurses Organisation of South Africa, Nehawu also called on the department to withdraw the letters of dismissal that it sent to striking doctors.

The South African Medical Association, although sympathetic to the doctors’ situation, did not support the strike. It would brief the media on the outcome of talks later on Tuesday.

The OSD was supposed to have been a payment to make up public sector doctors’ poor pay and working conditions, but implementation had stalled.—Sapa

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