More than 21000 specialist medical personnel posts are vacant

Issued by Michele Clarke MP – DA Shadow Minister of Health
25 Apr 2022 in News

The DA calls on the Department of Health to present solutions on filling vacancies for nurses and medical specialists as a matter of utmost urgency.

In a Parliamentary Question it was revealed that South Africa currently has a vacancy rate of 18.6% for specialist medical personnel and 13.7% for nurses. The province worst effected is the Free State, with a vacancy rate of 25.3%.The total number of vacancies for nurses is 21 453.

When looking at vacancies for specialist medical personnel, the province with the highest number is the Northern Cape, at a staggering 46 %.  Vacancy rates as high as this undoubtedly affect the provision of quality healthcare.

The DA-led Western Cape represents the lowest vacancy rate for both nurses, at 5.5% and specialist medical personnel, sitting at 9.2%.

I will write to the Chairperson of the portfolio committee to request the department come and present on the following:

  1. The reasons for such high vacancy rates
  2. Plans on how these vacancies will be filled and;
  3. How the Department plans to strengthen training nursing colleges.
  4. If the department has communicated such vacancies to Home Affairs in order to encourage the department to include nurses and specialist medical personnel in the critical skills list.
  5. If the Department has made any strides in forming PPPs with the private sectors with regards to training of nurses.

In March this year, thousands of temporary Covid staff were let go. The reason for this is that Provincial Health Departments lacked the funds to retain staff after the peak of the pandemic. Challenges in the healthcare sector include a shortage of medical skills and a shortage of funds to absorb these critical skills into the system.

It is clear that the ANC government cannot currently fill critical health vacancies. It is therefore doubtful that they will be able to do so when the NHI will inevitably lead to a brain drain.