No health services on Monday?

2009-06-19 00:00

HEALTH services around the country are bound to be brought to a standstill on Monday as doctors embark on a nationwide strike to voice their concerns to the Health Department.

In a statement released by “representatives of the South African public service doctors, dentists, pharmacists and emergency rescue services workers,” they call for a complete withdrawal of all services.

They say they have been left with no option but to go on a nationwide strike starting on Monday and ending only when all their demands have been addressed.

Their demands were handed to the government on May 29. They relate to staff shortages, infrastructure, equipment, and the remuneration of employees.

The statement read,“A report by Pravin Gordhan, the minister of Finance, has stated that there are sufficient funds for the implementation of the occupational-specific dispensation (OSD). It is clear that funding for national projects does exist, and it is merely the allocation of such funding that is the prohibitive factor.”

The medics said government’s constant delays have led to frustration and anger.

They said an unsatisfactory OSD settlement would result in a mass exodus of doctors from the public sector.

“Senior doctors will go to the private sector or go overseas, and junior doctors will leave the system after completing their compulsory internship and community service.”

They believe that once these individuals are lost to the public sector, they may never return.

“Those employees who remain in the system will have to deal with further staff shortages and increased workloads, which will in turn drive them out of the system.

They predict that the entire health system will collapse.

An OSD increase of 50%, tabled by the South African Medical Association (Sama), was countered by an offer of a 0,28% to five percent increase by the government.

The president of Sama KZN, Dr Graham Ducasse, said that the assocation will not accept anything less than 50%. “We have looked at ways of putting South African doctors on a par with doctors from overseas,” he said.

“Our state doctors do not feel the need to be rich: they just want to be paid what they deserve,” he added.

Ducasse insisted the mass action is not sanctioned by Sama.

An SMS to doctors around the country reads: “Sama is still part of the negotiation process to be concluded June 30, as mandated by its members. No dispute declared, so Sama has not called for any work stoppage by our doctors.”

Attempts to get comment from the department yesterday were unsuccessful.

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