Provinces take flak over doctors' pay

2011-02-01 16:42

Johannesburg - The Eastern Cape, Limpopo and the Free State were slammed by the Junior Doctors' Association of SA on Tuesday for failing to pay doctors.

This, after the Gauteng provincial health department denied that hundreds of newly-appointed doctors at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital would not be paid because of a bureaucratic bungle.

In a statement, Judasa expressed concern over the failure by the four provincial health departments to pay doctors and said the problem was becoming more frequent.

"We never anticipated that with being overworked, underpaid and dealing with poor working conditions not to get paid at all," said Judasa chairperson Dr Mahlane Phalane.

"The failure to pay doctors is a strain on our socio-economic needs. We have households to maintain and children to feed. It is distressing that as doctors we are called 'essential workers' but we are never afforded the essential treatment due to us."

Judasa called on the heads of the health departments in the Free State, Limpopo, the Eastern Cape and Gauteng to "urgently" see to it that doctors were paid.

Eastern Cape health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo denied that the failure to pay doctors was widespread. He said the province had not anticipated "serious challenges" when it came to paying junior doctors this year.

"We have taken a pro-active stance to ensure that we don't encounter the same problems which usually occur around the last three months of the financial year," he said.

Of 178 doctors employed by the department, five had complained about salaries. This was because of a "communication breakdown", he said.

The doctors were from Mthatha and had not been paid because they had failed to submit their qualifications. The documents were handed in by the doctors on Tuesday and they would be paid soon.

The problems experienced in the past resulted from the high volume of movement of new doctors from one province to another, Kupelo said.

Limpopo health department's acting communications manager Cecil Motsepe blamed human error for its failure to pay eight doctors.

"Only eight doctors have not been paid. There were doing two year internships and (these were) erroneously captured as one year."

The problem had been rectified and the doctors would be paid by the end of the week, he said.

Motsepe said this was an isolated incident and he was unaware of it happening before.

Annual crisis

Gauteng spokesperson Simon Zwane last week said about 40 doctors, medical interns and registrars would experience a delay in the payment of their salaries.

This was because of was the late submission of their appointment documents to the Gauteng Shared Service Centre (GSSC) by Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.

The outstanding salaries would be paid on Thursday this week, Zwane said on Tuesday.

The Free State health department could not immediately comment.

Judasa said qualified people should be placed in management positions to avoid the "annual crisis" repeating itself.

The treatment doctors received was "deteriorating to the morale of the profession", it said.

"Government is failing on its promise of efficiency in healthcare, failing the health professional and compromising the public. Nothing short of immediate resolution will restore order and discipline in our public healthcare system," said Phalane.

The Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA was "gravely dismayed" by the Gauteng and Limpopo health departments' failure to pay doctors.

"We cannot stress enough the importance of efficiency in health, one of government's priorities. The country is faced with chronic shortage of health professionals, but management blunders like these still persist," said Denosa in a statement.

"Denosa wishes to emphasise that the non-payment of doctors due to senseless excuses is unacceptable and undermines all efforts that are in place to rescue our ailing health system."

The organisation echoed Judasa's call for the appointment of qualified individuals in management positions.

- SAPA

Read more on:    local government  |  health
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