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17 February 2017


The Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) is alarmed by recent reports of an imminent staff shortage at one of the largest public health facilities in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).  The Union calls on the national Department of Health to urgently ensure that provincial decision-making avoids the pitfalls of poor management.


According to recent reports Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Phoenix, Durban could be without almost 24 doctors soon.  This is the result of a decision by the KZN Department of Health to employ them on a month-to-month basis – a decision which has left the doctors outraged.  The Union is concerned by these reports, especially after the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, proudly told the nation that doctors choose to be unemployed while on the other hand his department is implementing policies which contribute to staff shortage in public health.


The 24 locum doctors, who were previously on fixed term contract with the Department of Health, will now be employed on month-to-month basis.  The affected doctors have registered their unhappiness with this move and warned that they might leave due to job instability and loss of income.  These doctors have reportedly written to the Chief Executive Officer at the hospital to advise against this decision.  This could lead to the loss of valuable expertise and negatively impact the hospital’s patient care.


“Hospersa is concerned by these reports and calls on the Department of Health to take a deep introspection on its policies that contribute to the staff shortage in public health,” said Hospersa General Secretary Noel Desfontaines.  We sympathise with the affected doctors and their employment woes, but we must equally sympathise with the patients, as they would ultimately bear the brunt of this misguided decision.  It is inconceivable to picture Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital managed without the services of sufficient doctors,” he said.


Hospersa previously called on the Minister to address the staff shortage in public health where hospitals and clinics are managed on skeleton staff.  The Union believes incidents like these have become common in public health and that only a radical plan of action is needed to address some of the failed policies.


“Apart from this specific matter, Hospersa has also heard of rumours of so-called ghost doctors in the public service,” said Desfontaines.  “The rumour is that public hospital management creates illegal accounts, termed ghost doctors to create the illusion that doctors are still on payroll, while they have ceased work.  These fraudsters then allegedly enrich themselves with the purse designated for the services of sessional doctors.  Hospersa calls on the Minister [of Health] to urgently investigate these allegations of corruption and bad decision-making.  The Department [of Health] must urgently address the poor management issues that have become part and parcel of public health,” Desfontaines concluded.



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For interviews please contact Hospersa General Secretary Noel Desfontaines on 083-321-4427


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