Department of Health failing young doctors
Image Credit: DA

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Department of Health failing young doctors

Medical interns have expressed frustration because they are either getting placed too late or not at all for community service.

05-12-23 09:57
Department of Health failing young doctors
Image Credit: DA

According to Shadow Minister of Health, the DA has been inundated with calls from young doctors who need placement for their community service year after being left in the lurch by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).

Every year doctors get placed too late

Every year leading up to January and July, many young doctors either get placed too late or not at all, despite jumping through all the HPCSA hoops.

In answer to a written parliamentary question, the Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, revealed that the Department of Health managed to secure placements for all 2 530 doctors in October. This begs the question, why are there still community service doctors struggling with assistance from the HPCSA?

Historically, the Department of Health and the HPCSA tend to shift blame to the doctors for allegedly not applying on time or choosing to defer to be placed at a preferred facility. But this does not account for the many young doctors who do apply on time and would willingly be placed in any of South Africa’s health facilities.

interns work incredibly hard

Every year thousands of medical students and interns work incredibly hard to be able to one day serve their communities as doctors, only for the Department and the HPCSA to fail them through sheer ineptitude.

And if these young doctors do get placed, they face unemployment once they’ve concluded their close to a decade of training, because the Department of Health does not ensure that the budget is allocated to the filling of vacancies.

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Yet  Minister Phaahla has no problem forking out more than R30 million for the 44 architects of the NHI.

The DA has called on Minister Phaahla to put his money where his mouth is and personally ensure that every community service doctor, nurse, physiotherapist, and other personnel are placed on time, with the support they require.

These young professionals are the future of South African healthcare and the Department of Health needs to either ensure that they are assisted on time or consider partnering with private institutions to fill the gaps. This inept, unprofessional management of the programme must come to an end.