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St. John’s Hospital workers down tools

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Health workers at St. John’s Mission Hospital in Mzuzu on Monday downed tools in a move to force the board to confirm the contract of Richard Nhlane and consequently elevate him to the post of hospital director.

When The Daily Times visited the facility on Monday nurses, clinicians and medical assistants were seen basking in the sun while others turned back patients who went to the hospital for medical attention.

At the weekend, the workers discharged all the patients who were admitted to the facility and those who were critically ill were referred to the Mzuzu Central Hospital.

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One member of the striking workforce at the Catholic Church-owned health facility said in an interview that the industrial action will continue until the diocese grants them their wish.

“Our stand is clear, we are resuming work until doctor Nhlane is given a contract with condition befitting a doctor of his cadre. We are doing this for the benefit of the patients and not sheer selfishness as others might think,” said a nurse on terms of anonymity.

Nhlane confirmed in an interview that he refused to sign the work contract citing anomalies in the reporting system and poor conditions of service as some of the reasons.

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In a separate conversation, a medical assistant reiterated that the hospital’s service delivery has been on a downward spiral in the last four years for being headed by a non-medical person.

The Daily Times has gathered that administrator Charity Chinkono has been acting in the position, a development which has overtime received opposition, from the technical staff.

The workers argue that despite having a Master’s degree in Human Resource Management, Chimkono remains underqualified for the post of Hospital Director.

The coming in of Nhlane a month ago excited the junior technical staff in anticipation that he would assume the post of Hospital Director, and consequently reverse the trend of things.

“We have had our priorities upside down for a long. There is no way a big facility like this one could be running without a full blood count machine, but it is happening because the one at the helm of things is not conversant with medical stuff,” explained the source.

When called for comment, Pastoral Secretary to the Mzuzu Diocese Father Edmond Nyoka said that they are taking care of the situation.

“We will soon be issuing a statement on the same, so you can just wait,” said Nyoka without any more details.

Meanwhile, the workers are seeking legal advice from their lawyer after, receiving threats from the board that anyone taking part in the sit-in will be fired.

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