The newly-installed minister of Health Semano Sekatle is committed towards a fully functional health system hence his interest in solving the nursesâ€™ quagmire, the Lesotho Nursing Association (LNA) has said.
According to LNA President Rafael Tlali, unlike his predecessor Motlatsi Maqelepo who shouwed no interest to solve the nursesâ€™ woes, the new minster hit the ground running as he was ready to meet them the very first day he came into office.
â€œThis time the ministry is committed to solve our concerns as indicated by the number of meetings we have been holding the whole of the past week since the new minister came into office. To justify that, the new Minister of Health Semano Sekatle did not hide behind being new to the office and wait to be briefed about our issues but the very same day he and the ministryâ€™s executive met us to fear firsthand what our concerns are,â€ he said.
He pointed out that there has been some kind of headway since the talks began as in their last meeting the ministry had committed to talk with the management of the Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital (QMMH) to address the nursesâ€™ salary concerns.
Nurses at the QMMH have been on a salary-based strike since the beginning of February where they decried the fact that new nurses at the facility were being paid far more than them yet they were basically the ones showing them the ropes. They also complained about the fact they were being sidelined for the allowances and any other emoluments accruing to persons dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic whose treatment facility has been opened at the hospital, without regard of the fact that they also get to deal with and are in the fore-front of dealing with the virus.
â€œAlong with the negotiations going on we have learned and confirmed that the QMMH has no salary structure. We have always known that QMMH had no salary structure. It was only on Sunday that the hospital issued their proposal to the ministry stating how they can pay nurses. I have learned the hospital based its self on the Ministry of Health Salary Structure of 2017 and the Minister told the hospital to base itself on the 2020/2021 salary structure,â€ he said.
Tlali stated that up to this far there was no solution yet to the crisis, but that at least there was some progress unlike in the past when they were just basically being ignored hence they are pinning their hope on the ongoing talks.
â€œOn Thursday there will be a meeting again hopefully there will be an agreement reached,â€ he said.
For his part, Deputy Minister of Health Nto Moakhi, reiterated Tlaliâ€™s aversion that talks were going on although an agreement was yet to be reached.
â€œThere were a number of meetings held and so far no agreement has been reached. Like I said last week, I am not going to get too much into the issues because they have been escalated to court. The only thing that I can talk about is that the Hospital and the nurses were instructed to produce some documents that include the salary structure and we are still awaiting them,â€ he said. ï¿½-ï¿½,