Nurses rebuff government
The National Organisation for Nurses and Midwives (NONM) has rebuffed a government proposal to lift an injunction it obtained against a decision to withdraw 339 nurses that were recruited into the civil service.
The Ministry of Health in September this year advised all the concerned nurses not to continue working but instead take their letters of appointment, issued in August 2015, back to the ministry headquarters where they would be given new instructions. The development followed what the government called lack of funds to maintain the nurses on government payroll.
Lawyer representing NONM, Mauya Msuku, said his clients rejected the three conditions government, through the office of the Attorney General (AG) Chambers, proposed.
The move follows a ruling Judge Maclean Kamwambe delivered on November 23 this year following an application from the Health Service Commission (HSC) to vacate the injunction the nurses obtained against going through interviews if they are to be employed in the civil service. In the ruling, Kamwambe advised the
State to outline grounds for the proposal to lift the injunction which the two parties should discuss and ratify.
The HSC, which is represented by Neverson Chisiza from the AG chambers, proposed to settle the matter outside court.
“All what we have seen is a draft proposal from government which my clients have rejected,” said Msuku in an interview yesterday.
The first ground, according to a court file seen at the High Court in Blantyre, is that government wants to recruit only those nurses who reported for duties between August and September.
Secondly, government is asking NONM to verify its members who accepted the employment offer and, lastly, government proposes that all the nurses who did not accept the offer should be invited for interviews.
“We have not reached any agreement with government as far as we are concerned since the court made an order.
“They proposed the terms and we asked them that the best way was to have a roundtable discussion and they have not come back to us despite writing them twice,” said Msuku.
He added that the lawyers from both sides agreed that their clients should meet and map the way forward but officials from the Ministry of Health are not showing any interest.
NONM president, Dorothy Ngoma, said her organisation maintains its stand that all the nurses should be recruited.
“We will be grateful if they employ all the nurses,” she said.
But Chisiza said his duty was to prosecute the case, which he said was completed and handed over to authorities.
When asked to comment on the matter, both AG Kalekeni Kaphale and Ministry of Justice spokesperson, Apoche Itimu, said they were not aware of the latest development in the case and asked for more time.
“The lawyer hasn’t updated me on the case…But the Ministry of Health will always go by what the court will advise us to do,” said Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume.
But Ngoma said the decision was threatening to further cripple health service delivery in hospitals.
Malawi’s nurse-to-patient ratio stands at one to 3,000 compared to one to 1,000 as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
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