UKZN remains silent over intake of registrars

2014-06-25 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal Health Department is maintaining a determined silence despite facing a crisis involving the UKZN medical school’s registrar intake.

The Health Department has made no formal announcement of the fact there will be no mid-year intake of registrars to the University of KwaZulu-Natal medical school — and has ducked questions on the issue for months.

The move, following on the reduced intake in January, endangers the future and status of the University of KwaZulu-Natal medical school as well as having major implications for the provision of health services in the province.

The department maintained its silence as the Democratic Alliance entered the fray, yesterday calling the news that there would be no July registrar intake “appalling”.

The department has resolutely kept mum since early May when The Witness first approached it with questions regarding the mid-year intake, having established it was not to take place.

These questions included a request for information on the effect of the reduction on health provision in the province.

No response was received, despite repeated e-mails and telephone calls.

After an e-mail was sent to the head of the Health Department, Sibongile Zungu, complaining about the lack of communication, The Witness was contacted on Monday afternoon by the department’s general manager of corporate communications, Samuel Mkhwanazi.

He was informed of the lack of response on the part of his department’s media spokespeople.

He later replied, saying: “The department has noted your questions regarding issues about registrars. The department is seized with these matters and as they are complex and involve diverse stakeholders, it would like to inform you that at the appropriate time, The Witness will be provided with a comprehensive response set within a correct perspective which will be beneficial to your readership.” (sic)

Further attempts to gain comment yesterday were fruitless.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance says it is “appalled by the news that there will be no July intake of registrars at UKZN’s Medical School”.

“The lack of concern over this situation by either the MEC or his HOD is shattering,” said Imraan Keeka, the DA’s KZN spokesperson on health.

“Registrars form a pillar of strength in providing specialised health services in hospitals where they train.

“They are intermediaries between junior and senior levels of care and provide, depending on the year of study, very professional and skilled services.

“There being no registrar intake in KZN adds to the burden of a shortage of skilled medical professionals. This compounds the current crisis of a shortage of medical personnel that already exists. The knock-on effect means that fewer specialists will graduate at the end of this cycle of intake.”

Keeka said that already specialised mother and child hospitals such as in Newcastle “have a problem with no registrars or a full-time specialised paediatrician”.

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