HOS­PI­TALS ABAN­DONED

Daily Nation Newspaper - - HOME NEWS - By NA­TION REPORTER

GOVERN­MENT hos­pi­tals are poorly ser­viced by med­i­cal per­son­nel who spend more time in pri­vate clin­ics where they re­fer pa­tients. The sit­u­a­tion has forced govern­ment to ban med­i­cal per­son­nel un­der the pub­lic ser­vice from work­ing in any pri­vate in­sti­tu­tion or draw­ing two salaries as this was against the law. Chap­ter V, ar­ti­cle 86 re­lat­ing to salaries pro­hibits one from draw­ing more than one salary. “No of­fi­cer may draw a salary for more than one post at the same time,” the ar­ti­cle reads. Ac­cord­ing to hos­pi­tal sources some med­i­cal per­son­nel were tak­ing ad­van­tage of lack of mon­i­tor­ing to spend man hours meant for govern­ment hos­pi­tals, in pri­vate clin­ics. The source said the prac­tice was com­mon in most hos­pi­tals where pa­tients were given long wait­ing pe­ri­ods to ac­cess sur­gi­cal ser­vices yet hos­pi­tal the­atres were not even be­ing used on some days be­cause peo­ple were busy in pri­vate clin­ics. And an op­po­si­tion leader has said there was noth­ing wrong with govern­ment putting brakes on med­i­cal per­son­nel aban­don­ing hos­pi­tals where they are draw­ing huge salaries for pri­vate prac­tice. 3rd Lib­er­a­tion Move­ment leader, Enock Tonga, said govern­ment was within its rights to im­ple­ment poli­cies to save lives and en­sure ef­fi­ciency in the ad­min­is­tra­tion of hos­pi­tals. He how­ever, ad­vised govern­ment not to deny med­i­cal per­son­nel ex­tra in­come if it was done in their free time. Govern­ment, he said, should monitor the med­i­cal per­son­nel to en­sure that they are ad­her­ing to con­di­tions of ser­vice in as far pa­tient care was con­cerned and make de­ci­sions in the in­ter­est of the na­tion. “Med­i­cal per­son­nel should de­liver to ex­pec­ta­tions be­cause they are draw­ing salaries from pub­lic re­sources, “he said. “We should all work to­gether to use what­ever means to en­sure ser­vice de­liv­ery. Govern­ment should set stan­dards to monitor how they work and if there are any short­com­ings, those found want­ing can be dealt with,” Mr Tonga said. Hos­pi­tal in­sid­ers have also com­plained that the wait­ing pe­riod for pa­tients to see spe­cial­ist doc­tors in govern­ment is un­nec­es­sar­ily long be­cause some doc­tors are only there for morn­ing ses­sions in most cases. The sources also ex­plained that med­i­cal per­son­nel were free to moon­light in their free time but not dur­ing the pe­ri­ods they should be in govern­ment hos­pi­tals. The ap­par­ent abuse of the sys­tem is what has led to govern­ment de­ci­sion to ban use of govern­ment man hours in pri­vate clin­ics. “Hos­pi­tals have been aban­doned and what govern­ment has done is only right. We can­not have peo­ple draw­ing salaries for work that they are do­ing mostly in pri­vate hos­pi­tals and spend­ing a few hours in govern­ment hos­pi­tals,” a hos­pi­tal source told the Daily Na­tion. Med­i­cal per­son­nel would now be ex­pected to put in the nor­mal hours in govern­ment health in­sti­tu­tions and can do other work in their own free time. The source fur­ther said med­i­cal per­son­nel had them­selves to blame for choos­ing to spend most of their time in pri­vate clin­ics while pa­tients were put on long wait­ing lists. How­ever, the Zam­bia Union of Nurses Or­gan­i­sa­tion (ZUNO) has de­manded that the Min­istry of Health should with­draw a cir­cu­lar ban­ning pub­lic health work­ers from work­ing in pri­vate hos­pi­tals to avoid in­dus­trial un­rest in the sec­tor. ZUNO gen­eral sec­re­tary Mich­elo Fray said that they were aware of their con­di­tions of ser­vice which did not pro­hibit them from en­gag­ing in ex­tra projects to raise their in­come earn­ings. And ZMA sec­re­tary gen­eral Fran­cis Mu­peta al­leged the di­rec­tive was meant to in­tim­i­date and frus­trate the med­i­cal work­ers de­spite their enor­mous con­tri­bu­tion to the sec­tor. Dr Mu­peta said it was clear proof of lack of ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the health pro­fes­sion de­spite what they put in to save the face of the limp­ing sta­tus in the area of hu­man re­source. “Our position on the is­sue still re­mains the same as that given in 2015 that, ‘there is no law that for­bids cit­i­zens to have duo prac­tice in pub­lic and pri­vate. How­ever, we take great ex­cep­tion to mem­bers who do not ful­fil their man-hours in ei­ther pub­lic or pri­vate in­sti­tu­tions and thus cre­ate the con­flict and loss of trust in the ac­count­abil­ity frame­work’. “Fur­ther, we wish to con­demn the di­rec­tive as ill-in­tended as it dis­re­gards what ob­tains in prac­tice,” he said. He ex­pressed con­cern at the high pa­tient-doc­tor ra­tio in Zam­bia which he charged re­sulted in the fail­ure to at­tain health sec­tor tar­gets such as ma­ter­nal mor­tal­ity, in­fant and child mor­tal­ity.

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