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18 April 2017


The Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) has come out strongly against recent reports of staff shortages in the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Department of Health.  The Union calls on the Minister of Health to address the staff shortages, as well as the prevalence of poor management and corruption experienced in the province.


The KZN Department of Health is reportedly running on skeleton specialist staff which, along with the common problem of broken and non-maintained equipment and shortages of medicine, results in poor service delivery to the people.  Reports state that there is only one oncologist in the whole of Durban and South Coast area as a result of group resignations due to broken equipment. There is also only one urologist in the whole region, with a single part-time specialist supervising the complicated treatment of more than 400 diabetic children.


“Hospersa is very concerned about these reports,” said KZN Provincial Secretary Popson Kunene.  “We have previously made an outcry about the staff shortage in Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Phoenix, Durban where the hospital could be without almost 24 doctors.  The situation seems to be getting worse and we are appalled that little is being done to address the staff shortage crisis in the province that ultimately hampers the services delivered to our communities,” he said.


Recent reports from the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) regarding the non-filling of vacancies and restructuring allege that the Department of Health is currently restructuring.  This includes offering early retirement without penalties to some departments.  The Department of Public Service and Administration has denied these allegations and have stated they are embarking on a “strategic realignment” to optimise service delivery.


“The Department [of Health] needs to be taken to task for compromising service delivery in the name of strategic alignment,” argued Kunene.  “Our members are working under severe pressure because of these vacant posts while qualified graduates are being shunned from employment.  We continue to see long waiting queues resulting in patients venting their frustrations on our members,” Kunene added.


It is reported that there is a nine-month waiting period for the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans for cancer patients in the KZN and a six-months waiting period at St Aiden Hospital for patients needing an ultrasound scan. It is also reported that the radiotherapy machines at Addington Hospital do not work resulting in cancer patients being denied treatment.


“Hospersa has on several times reported the non-maintenance of these machines and even staged a picket outside Addington Hospital,” said Kunene.  “It has been reported that an unscrupulous service provider was given preference for the maintenance of all hospital machines in the province,” he pointed out.


“Staff shortages in the public sector remain a thorn in the flesh.  Much more needs to be done as many qualified specialists are leaving public health due to being overworked and because of the generally poor working conditions,” Kunene said.  “What is more shocking is that these posts are not being filled while so many qualified specialists continue to look for placement in vain.  We call on the Minister [of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi] to urgently address the staff shortages, poor management and corruption in KZN in order to transform what seems to be a failing system,” concluded Kunene.



Total words (excluding heading):  544


For interviews please contact Hospersa KwaZulu Natal Provincial Secretary Popson Kunene on 083-603-2582

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