Registrar squeeze ‘not forever’

2014-04-04 00:00

THE reduced intake of medical registrars that took place in January 2014 “is not a permanent feature”, says the KZN Health Department.

This follows the reduction in the intake of registrars to the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine in January from 93 to 40. Last November a memorandum was sent out by the provincial Department of Health to heads of various disciplines at the medical school informing them of a reduction in the intake of registrars in January.

According to Sebe Zwane, spokesperson for the provincial Health Department, “budgetary constraints led to the decision to reduce the intake of registrars”.

A registrar is a medical doctor receiving advanced training in a specialist field, ranging from anaesthetics to urology, and according to the Health Department there are currently 562 registrars in training.

As many as 20 disciplines were affected by the reduced intake in January, including anaesthetics, cardiothoracic surgery, family medicine, general surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, oncology, paediatrics and psychiatry. The largest reduction is in general surgery, from 16 to four, followed by paediatrics, from 11 to six, and psychiatry, from four to one.

There is usually another intake of registrars in July but according to the November memorandum there was a possibility this might be cancelled entirely, further reducing the number of registrars.

However, Zwane said a “final decision” had not been taken with regard to the July intake and emphasised that the “registrar intake has not been reduced to one intake only”.

Asked if the reduced number of registrars would affect service delivery to patients, Zwane said that medical doctors take up posts vacated by those going on to become registrars and this “means that the workforce is not negatively affected”. She added that registrars “constitute a major part of the workforce whilst in training”.

However, although Zwane said the “reduced intake in January 2014 is not a permanent feature”, she acknowledged the “number of specialists that are in the public sector are impacted upon by natural attrition” and that specialists leave “to seek more lucrative opportunities locally and abroad”.

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