Thousands of vacant medical posts

KwaZulu-Natal has more than 3 300 vacant posts for doctors, provincial health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo said today.

“We have 1 188 vacant posts for specialists (doctors) and 2 136 vacant posts for ordinary doctors,” Dhlomo told reporters in Pietermaritzburg.

The figures were contained in a progress report presented in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature.

There were nearly 4 500vacant posts for nurses and about 1 200 for pharmacists.

“We are struggling to fill the posts because people are not available. We all know that many doctors and nurses have left the country for overseas jobs.”

Dhlomo said staff and skills hampered the department’s ability to deliver services.

More than 2 500 critical posts had been filled between April and September this year, and nearly 2 000 doctors, 450 specialists, 11 200 nurses and 420 pharmacists were hired.

Dhlomo told legislators the number of claims against the department arising from poor patient care was alarming.

“We have approximately R129 million claims for current financial year.”

A total of 68 claims against the department had been settled for R78.3 million since April.

“Although this amount is exorbitant, there has also been a saving in the amount of R63 million due to negotiated settlement offers,” he said.

The department’s anti-corruption measures were bearing fruit.


“A total of 377 cases of alleged fraud and corruption were recorded, of which 13 were finalised.

In addition, 38 high-profile cases were investigated since September last year.”

Eight staff members had been dismissed after they had been found guilty of fraud and six given final warnings.

Nine resigned when they were investigated.

Eleven cases were still in being investigated or before the courts.

When cases were finalised internally, they were taken to the police.

Dhlomo said major financial management and governance reforms had been implemented to instil fiscal discipline.

“I am happy to report that as at end of September, we are projecting to stay within the 2010/2011 allocated budget.”

The department had come to understand budget pressures which previously caused overspending, he said.

These pressures included monitoring antiretroviral treatment for HIV patients and increased laboratory services costs.


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