400 doctors too many

2016-11-15 10:41
Failure to find hospital postings for 100s of interns is 'shocking', says the DA.

Failure to find hospital postings for 100s of interns is 'shocking', says the DA. (File)

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It has been alleged that of 1 700 medical students, only 1 246 internship positions have been made available in public hospitals for next year.

It is compulsory for medical students from across the country to complete two years’ service at a state hospital, and a year of community service before they are able to register to practise medicine.

Concerns over medical students being unable to complete their academic year due to the FeesMustFall movement earlier this year have since fallen to the wayside as a new factor is allegedly affecting the internship process.

DA Health shadow minister Dr Wilmot James released a statement recently that said he had been led to believe that over 400 of 1 700 medical students had either not been placed or were placed inappropriately.

However, on Wednesday last week, James said the national Health Department did not have funding for the interns to be placed and had asked the provincial departments to fund them.

“Out of 1 700 students, only 1 246 places are available. I don’t know if this is bad planning, or it was thought that there were only 1 246 places needed,” he said.

James added that this would cause the health system to suffer as it means there will be fewer doctors in the system next year.

He said although the first round of internship selections had been completed and announced “a while back”, with the second round announced on Wednesday, there would be a third round to try to place the remaining students.

He said many students had also been placed inappropriately. For example, a wife has been placed in a different province from her husband.

James said medical students who are not placed as interns by January 1, 2017, will be in an “intolerable position”.

“They cannot be registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa and there are no alternatives, such as working in the private sector, for them to explore,” he said.

He said the whole situation is “shocking”.

National Health Department spokesperson Joe Maila did not respond to media queries sent by The Witness on Wednesday last week at the time of going to print.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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