THE national strike by junior doctors entered its third day, with only two doctors reporting for duty at Mpilo Central Hospital, as Bulawayo health practitioners heeded the call to down tools.
Senior medical officers joined the industrial action yesterday morning leaving the outpatients ward full of patients who needed medical attention.
Junior doctors are on strike demanding an increase in their salaries from $282 to $1 200, excluding allowances.
“The senior medical officers and other junior doctors were told to leave in the morning, leaving behind two junior doctors, who only attended to seriously ill patients, while nurses attended to the people who came for reviews only,” an official at the hospital said.
The Mpilo Central Hospital outpatients hall was deserted, as the people who needed hospital services in the morning were turned away without being attended to.
At the maternity ward, only a few doctors were available for emergencies.
However, at United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) the situation was markedly different. Doctors were only available in the outpatients department and they attended to about 30 patients in the morning and dismissed the rest.
At the casualty department there was only one doctor who seemed overwhelmed by the workload, with one patient saying she had been waiting for the doctor for hours.
“I was told to come to the casualty ward because that is where the doctor was, but I have been here for about an hour and the doctor is nowhere to be found,” a lady, who was with a sick relative, said.
UBH chief executive officer Nonhlanhla Ndlovu said: “The doctors’ strike that is currently taking place has really affected our operations as people who are due for their surgeries are not being attended to. They are being given new dates for surgery.
“The hospitals are currently running with a few junior doctors, senior consultants and nurses who did not heed the strike call.”