ZAMBIA Union of Nurses Organisation (ZUNO) General Secretary Fray Michelo says the union will consider filing a formal complaint over the “nonsense” word used by Health Minister Sylvia Masebo when reprimanding a nurse who was caught using her phone while on duty at Matero Level One Hospital.

During her recent visit to Matero Level One Hospital, Masebo was seen reprimanding a health worker who she found using her phone as patients waited to be attended to.

“This business of being on phones, I will get you fired all of you. People are complaining and all you do is sit on phones. You must work. Patients are outside but you are on the phone. 24/7 you are just on the phone. Nonsense,” said Masebo.

But in an interview, Michelo said Masebo was wrong to use the word “nonsense” when correcting the erring officer.

“Of course we know that even if somebody has to be fired for whatever they have done, there are procedures in the civil service that are always followed. Indeed, that reprimand was not bad and it is probably the sentiments that were expressed by the Minister where we might say that maybe she expressed them in a hasty manner. She could have used words that did not sit well with us. Of course, we know that anyone who has been found wanting should be reprimanded. However, the words being used to reprimand must be measured. We heard that there was a word used such as ‘nonsense’. I do not think that is a professional word and we would not encourage that a government official should be going into institutions to use such words when correcting erring officers,” he said.

And when asked whether the union would lodge a formal complaint to the Ministry of Health or the civil service commission on the matter, Michelo responded in the affirmative.

“Definitely. We know that clip is on social media and we know that there are words that did not sit well with the profession. The way somebody who has been found wanting should be handled without using the word in question. So definitely, we will express some concern to say if those words that will be used to professionals, then we do not know how professionals will be feeling. There are also individuals in their capacity who would want somebody to approach them with at least some professional way of handling anything that has been found wrong with them and not using words that would make them feel uncomfortable or unworthy,” he said.

Michelo, however, said the union expected all nurses to promote professionalism in their line of duty to avoid being reprimanded.

“As an organisation, we always want to promote professionalism in an institution before we even come to issues of the approach. We must just be professional so that whoever walks in that institution does not see any unprofessionalism. If that is identified, it should be brought out that this is unprofessional so that we do not see people doing what they are not supposed to do. We just need to be professional and ethical in our line of duty in order to avoid being reprimanded,” said Michelo.

“I know it probably did not sit well with the Minister finding that a staff [was] on the phone while patients are waiting to be attended to. Definitely, that is unprofessional. At that point, the visit was abrupt and it was not known that the nurse would be found wanting and be reprimanded. The Minister went there because of what was happening and she went to check. Unfortunately, she found that one of the staff members was on the phone and she immediately reprimanded that officer. Of course that did not sit well with her and that is why she reprimanded the officer like that.”