BULAWAYO, Monday, September 16, 1991 — Junior doctors at Bulawayo United and Mpilo Central Hospitals have sent a circular to the Ministry of Health advising that with effect from the beginning of this month they were each going to do only a maximum of eight calls a month. In a two-page circular sent to the secretary for health, Dr Geoffrey Sikipa, superintendent of the country’s four major hospitals, the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Zimbabwe and heads of department at two Bulawayo hospitals, the doctors said anything more than the eight calls was optional.
They said they had resolved to do eight calls, after doing 10-15 calls a month since the beginning of the year, because they could not continue to suffer either physically, mentally or socially because Bulawayo was experiencing a critical shortage of doctors. The doctor said that 25 junior doctors were assigned to the two Bulawayo hospitals at the beginning of the year but seven of them failed to turn up.
Two of those who came had since left for South Africa. “The staff situation at the two hospitals has been ignored for a long time as if it is nothing serious and, as a result, the junior doctors at the hospitals are expected to do all the work even if it means doing calls one in two days or one in three days as is the situation now,” said the circular.
The allocation of junior doctors for Bulawayo was inadequate as only 40 percent of them were assigned to Bulawayo with the rest remaining in Harare, it added. “In fact the allocation should be 50-50 if not more in favour of Bulawayo because junior doctors in Harare always have the assistance of medical students, particularly those in the final year,” said doctors.
They said their two-year housemanship period was supposed to be both a working and learning period but the latter purpose was not being realised because thy were perpetually tired after the long calls coupled with lack of surgeons, consulting and equipment.