Medical staff at Helen Joseph Hospital have not been paid and do not have contracts

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According to a memo addressed to managers, line managers, supervisors, staff and organised labour, dated April 26, of the 177 newly approved Covid-19 contract posts for the financial year of 2022/23, there was a delay in the creation of 91 of these posts. Photo: Laila Majiet/City Press
According to a memo addressed to managers, line managers, supervisors, staff and organised labour, dated April 26, of the 177 newly approved Covid-19 contract posts for the financial year of 2022/23, there was a delay in the creation of 91 of these posts. Photo: Laila Majiet/City Press

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Doctors and nurses who were contracted for Covid-19 at Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg claim that they have not been paid for the month of April.

According to a memo addressed to managers, line managers, supervisors, staff and organised labour, dated April 26, of the 177 newly approved Covid-19 contract posts for the financial year of 2022/23, there was a delay in the creation of 91 of these posts.

The memo read:

As a result, there will be a delay in the payment of April salaries for the affected 91 employees … HR is currently attending to the matter and will communicate progress in due course. Management would like to apologise on behalf of the Gauteng department of health for the inconvenience this delay will cause to staff.

The doctors said the hospital was now bullying them into working, even though their posts had not yet been created.

One doctor said they had been told their contracts would be renewed until March next year and they had even been given employment contracts and everything had been formalised.

READ: Nurses bitten and hit by psychiatric patients in Helen Joseph Hospital

“On April 29, when we were supposed to be paid, we got an internal memo saying there was a delay in creating the posts. As a result, we would not be paid our April salary and they didn’t know when they were going to pay us. This, they said, included any work we did in the future and it would be up until they created the posts. We have been working for a month in a post that does not exist and has not been created.”

She said they were not sure about their employment status and it seemed as if they were now jobless.

“When we go to human resources, we are told they are working on the issue, they will create the posts and we should continue coming to work. We stayed away from work from May 6, as what is happening doesn’t sound legal. They threatened us with unpaid leave but they refused to commit to a particular date of paying our salaries or creating the post. We are not on the system, but they want us to continue to work even though we are not sure if we will be paid for the services we have rendered.”

Another doctor said they were now being bullied into rendering services that they would not be paid for.

“I was locked out of my apartment on Monday night and I had to give the landlord the memo from work. We have families to take care of, petrol is expensive and we also have to eat. The nurses are still working, as they are scared to be victimised. They have kids to support and have to send money back, but they are still in the dark about getting paid. The hospital is short-staffed, especially in the intensive care unit and, as a result, doctors are working overtime which they are not paid for. A doctor is supposed to have one call per week but I got nine calls last month, which are not remunerated.”

READ: Patients treated in corridors at Helen Joseph Hospital

He said the situation was setting them up for trouble in the future because, should something happen to them while on duty, the hospital would not be held liable as they were not in the system.

DA shadow health MEC Jack Bloom said the department had failed to pay April salaries despite the extra burden from Covid-19 cases and patients diverted from closed departments at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.

He said:

This is yet another example of incompetence that hurts hard working medical staff who are trying to save lives in difficult circumstances.

Earlier this year, interns at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital also endured late payment of salaries, which was so bad that doctors donated to a fund to help them.

“I have contacted Gauteng health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi to speed up the payment to the 91 staff members,” Bloom added.


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