HSB ex­plains health sec­tor wind­fall dis­par­i­ties

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Paidamoyo Chipunza Se­nior Health Re­porter

HEALTH work­ers, the ma­jor­ity of whom are doc­tors, will have their on call al­lowances, which were re­cently slashed barely two months after they were awarded, re­in­stated, Health Ser­vices Board (HSB) chief ex­ec­u­tive Ms Ruth Kaseke has said.

Ms Kaseke said fol­low­ing a se­ries of en­gage­ments be­tween HSB and the Min­istry of Fi­nance and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment, the af­fected cadres will be paid their dues ac­cord­ing to the ini­tial agree­ment of a min­i­mum of $760 a month.

“As in­di­cated be­fore, we do not know what led to slash­ing of the on call al­lowances, but we have since en­gaged Trea­sury over the is­sue and they have as­sured us that it will be rec­ti­fied,” said Ms Kaseke.

She said al­though they were yet to get for­mal com­mu­ni­ca­tion from Trea­sury to en­able them to also com­mu­ni­cate for­mally to the af­fected cadres, the slash­ing of on call al­lowances was not de­lib­er­ate and not in any way linked to the pro­posed in­tro­duc­tion of the spe­cial med­i­cal al­lowances for non-med­i­cal health work­ers.

“Al­le­ga­tions that HSB had rec­om­mended the cuts to ac­com­mo­date non-med­i­cal per­son­nel are not true be­cause the two pro­cesses are com­pletely different,” she said.

Clar­i­fy­ing on back­dated pay­ment dis­par­i­ties be­tween pri­mary care nurses (PCNs) and reg­is­tered gen­eral nurses (RGNs), which saw the later get­ting more than the for­mer, Ms Kaseke said PCNs were in much lower grades, whose to­tal earn­ings fall out­side the tax bracket hence the dis­par­i­ties.

She said the PCNs who re­ceived the wind­fall were also among the first to be trained and by ex­pe­ri­ence and ap­praisal were now sup­posed to be in Grade D, which is the en­try grade for RGNs, up from Grade C.

“This meant their hous­ing and trans­port al­lowances were also re­viewed up­wards to match with those of RGNs in Grade D, but for RGNs there was not much change be­cause the al­lowances are al­most the same across all grades,” said Ms Kaseke. She said be­cause bonus is also cal­cu­lated based on one’s ba­sic salary plus hous­ing and trans­port al­lowances, the PCNs still fetched more com­pared to RGNs and ma­jor­ity of their to­tal earn­ing fall be­low the tax bracket re­sult­ing in them tak­ing home more than RGNs.

Ms Kaseke said RGNs were there­fore de­prived more on their ba­sic salary than trans­port and hous­ing re­sult­ing in them re­ceiv­ing less than half of what PCNs got in the back­dated pay­ments.

Asked on whether all other af­fected dis­ci­plines in the health sec­tor also re­ceived the back­dated pay­ments, Ms Kaseke said all the 8 916 pro­fes­sion­als out of a com­pli­ment of about 35 000 were paid their dues.

She said nurses, how­ever, formed the bulk of those who were af­fected.

“All dis­ci­plines who were af­fected have re­ceived their dues, but it ap­pears as if only nurses were paid be­cause they form the bulk of those who were wrongly graded ac­count­ing for about 7 600,” she said.

The pay­ments were ef­fected on Mon­day, fol­low­ing a re­lease of $17 mil­lion by Gov­ern­ment about a month ago to end a month-long doc­tors’ strike and a loom­ing nurses’ strike.

This re­sulted in an up­ward in­crease of nurses’ night duty al­lowances, in­tro­duc­tion of standby al­lowances for nurses work­ing in ru­ral ar­eas, up­ward re­view of doc­tors on call al­lowances and pay­ment of dues to cadres who were wrongly graded since 2010.

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