DA claims health department staff unqualified

2010-10-25 12:23

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has urged health minister Aaron Motsoaledi to review the composition of the department’s foreign workforce management programme.

This was to ensure it was staffed with people with the specialised knowledge of the health profession that this job required, DA spokesperson Mike Waters said today.

A reply to a DA parliamentary question revealed that there was only one member of the foreign workforce management programme who had a degree in a health-related field, and one member did not even have matric.

“At the moment the foreign workforce management programme seems only to impede improvements to healthcare,” he said.

While South Africa could not train even a fraction of the health workers it needed, the foreign workforce management programme had developed a reputation for enormous inefficiency and for bias against foreign-qualified workers.

Other than one person with a master’s degree in public health, every other member of the committee was completely unqualified for this job.

One member had only a grade 11. Another member had a call centre management certificate, and another had a certificate of competence in computer literacy.

This seemed to be another example of the ANC’s cadre deployment policy, at the expense of ordinary South Africans in need of decent healthcare, Waters said.

“The foreign workforce management programme is notorious for long delays, sometimes of three years or more, in deciding on whether to accept or reject applications from foreign-qualified workers to work in South Africa.

“It is also notorious for rejecting applications on highly questionable grounds – recently the application of a British nurse with a master’s in nursing was rejected because her degree was too ‘specialised’,” he said.

The foreign workforce management programme was responsible for applying the policy decided on by the National Health Council on foreign health workers.

Within these parameters, it had a great deal of discretion about who to accept.

Unfortunately for South Africa, its bias seemed to be towards finding reasons to reject applications, in an environment where South Africans stood in queues for hours or days because of shortages of doctors, nurses and specialists at public hospitals, Waters said.

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