Last week about 22 doctors and 15 nurses received dismissal letters after they ignored a court order to return to work and continued with the strike. The striking public sector employees are part of the over 90,000 government employees pressuring the government for a 16 percent pay rise.
The affected cadres include administration officers, laboratory technicians, dental staff, and support staff. Mortuary attendants, cleaners, gatekeepers and kitchen hands are among the support staff shown the door.
The government however, has steadfastly maintained that it can only afford a conditional across the board 5 percent increase payable later in the year when the economy has improved to cope with the anticipated pay rise.
Yesterday, NRH public relations officer, Caiphus Gabana feared that the worst was yet to hit the northern division referral hospital as more essential services employees who engaged in the public sector strike are expected to collect their dismissal letters. Asked how the hospital that is currently operating in shifts was coping under the circumstances, Gabana pointed out: "There is a problem in that the hospital has always struggled as it has never reached its full complement and now with doctors, nurses and support staff expelled it means we are about to face the worst."
He expressed concern that Batswana are no longer getting the best service from the hospital as all the departments are experiencing a serious shortage, "the worst to happen to a health facility of NRH"s calibre."The hospital spokesperson said that the worst thing to happen to the health facility was that, "we have lost the cream of our staff." He was adamant that all the areas in which the hospital has lost its staff will continue to suffer badly.
When asked if the hospital was keeping a high level of cleanliness after the departure of the staff in that department, Gabana doubted if that was possible, "when so many people have lost their jobs with no replacement." He was not even certain how soon the government would start replacing those who have been dismissed from work.
"We need replacements like yesterday because it's becoming difficult to provide the requisite services," Gabana said.
Meanwhile, government through the Ministry of Health public relations office this week issued a press statement, which reflects the general situation at the government facilities.
"The Ministry of Health advises the public that its services nationwide have been adversely affected by the ongoing industrial action by the civil servants," reads the statement in part.
The statement also requested patience from the patients when seeking medical attention at any of the Ministry of Health facilities as waiting periods are bound to be longer.
"The truth is that government hospitals are operational although with reduced staff," further warns the press statement. The ministry has assured the public that it was working around the clock to ensure that the services are restored to near normal as possible under the circumstances.