KZN Health Department bans moonlighting

2010-01-07 00:00

DOCTORS and nurses employed by the KZN Health Department have been banned from moonlighting, because the practice is being abused.

This constraint on personnel in the public sector comes at a time when hospitals are experiencing critical staff shortages.

There were reports yesterday of staff shortages causing chaos in Addington Hospital. A Durban newspaper repor­ted that the paediatrics department, which deals with up to 160 patients a day, only had four doctors instead of 10 and that, on Saturday, orthopaedic operations had to be cancelled.

Critical staff shortages also exist at Edendale, Grey’s and Northdale hospitals, Nicholas Mkhize, a spokesman for the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), said yesterday.

Mkhize said the problem is compounded because Grey’s and Edendale are large regional hospitals that attract patients from outlying areas.

He said the problem relates to a moratorium on all posts because the health department went over budget.

He said Nehawu has had several meetings with Health MEC Dr Sibongenseni Dhlomo on the issue of staff shortages.

“The MEC has made a commitment that critical posts will be filled and we are optimistic that he will stick to this undertaking. We have already addressed the issues of staffing shortages in the forensic and pathology sections, and employment there is about to be finalised. We are pleased with this development,” he said.

On the ban on moonlighting, Mkhize said the Health Department has to realise that people moonlight because of under payment in the public sector. He said Nehawu plans to motivate for a salary review for nurses, doctors and primary health workers prior to the mid-term expenditure forecast (MTEF).

“This is so that people get what they deserve and there is no need to moonlight,” he said.

KZN Health spokesman Chris Maxon said the circular sent out to staff said moonlighting is banned, “while the department reviews controls and pro­cesses”.

Maxon added that being allowed to engage in remunerated work outside the public sector is a privilege, not a right. The administration is taking away that privilege while the system is reviewed.

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