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Public Servants’ Association urges Public Protector Intervention to address Doctor shortage crisis in KZN healthcare

Azra Hoosen |
4 April 2024 | 10:00 CAT
2 min read

The Public Servants’ Association (PSA) has urgently called for the intervention of the Public Protector to address the critical shortage of doctors in South Africa’s healthcare system. The PSA expressed grave concern over the delay in appointing doctors to various health facilities, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).

According to PSA representative Mlungisi Ndlovu, the shortage of doctors severely impacts healthcare services, leading to overcrowding, longer patient waiting times, treatment delays, and compromised care.

“Not long ago, Doctors were on the street, where PSA was part of that picketing/March and handed over a memorandum to the Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, raising concerns about the many unplaced and unemployed doctors in South Africa. Most of our hospitals have a staff shortage; we cannot afford this situation,” said Ndlovu.

Ndlovu stated that during the budget speech, it was declared that doctors would be placed by April 1st. However, regrettably, this has not materialised as anticipated.

“Yesterday, some of the doctors went to the provincial health building to picket but were forcefully removed by the police; they slept outside the gate; this says there is a crisis. We seem not to be progressing,” he said.

Despite escalating concerns to provincial authorities, including the MEC and the Premier’s office, the PSA claims there has been a lack of responsiveness and transparency regarding concrete plans to address the crisis.

Consequently, the PSA is intensifying pressure on the government, calling upon the Public Protector and other stakeholders to prioritise the employment of doctors to safeguard the effectiveness of the national health insurance initiative and ensure adequate healthcare provision for citizens.

The KwaZulu-Natal Health Department has cited funding as a significant hurdle in recruiting unemployed doctors in the province. Provincial health MEC Nomagugu Simelane has appealed to approximately 50 doctors who staged a sit-in at the department’s head office, demanding appointment letters, to exercise patience as their concerns are addressed. The MEC emphasised that all civil servants must undergo the appropriate recruitment procedures.

“The response we normally get is that they don’t have money; where is the money? Some of the reasons might be wasteful expenditure and maladministration,” he asserted.

Ndlovu highlighted that the lack of effective communication between the Department of Health and ministers has left crucial information unavailable to the public. The PSA is mobilising to ensure government accountability in addressing this issue. With a significant portion of citizens lacking medical aid and many unemployed individuals lacking access to private healthcare, the understaffing crisis poses a serious problem.

“There is too much red tape, and the department is not doing the basics; they need to give us solutions, not just be defensive. They must be able to work on the HR strategy and equip managers to be able to plan in advance; they should have been aware of how many vacancies are open, how many budgeted posts they have and how many more positions they need to create, that is the principles of HR. they need to respond to this particular crisis,” he said.

LISTEN to the full interview with Muallimah Annisa Essack and Provincial Manager of KZN PSA, Mlungisi Ndlovu, here.


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