Medical professionals whose contracts have been terminated must be exempted from their ‘Zuma year’ 

Issued by Haseena Ismail MP – DA Deputy Shadow Minister of Health
16 May 2022 in News

Please find an attached soundbite by Haseena Ismail MP

According to reports 2 748 community healthcare workers, 631 nurses and 91 doctors who were performing community service had their contracts terminated before they have completed it due to the Department of Health’s budgetary constraints.

These doctors and nurses will be unable to find jobs since they are legislated to undergo at least a year of community service before practising medicine or nursing.

The termination of these contracts will undoubtedly have a negative impact on our healthcare system, considering the scarcity of medical practitioners across the country.

Despite the fact that South Africa has less than 1 doctor per 1000 patients, there are currently roughly 21 000 specialised medical staff vacancies throughout all nine provinces. Terminating these community service contracts will not help us raise the number of qualified medical staff working in South African hospitals; instead, it would just delay the admission of experienced health professionals, putting a strain on our health system.

The DA therefore calls for any community service doctors and nurses whose contracts have been unceremoniously terminated, to be exempted from their community service duty requirements. This will ensure that the Department of Health’s budgetary constraints and administrative mistakes do not suffocate essential medical skills that are desperately needed at both private and public hospitals across all provinces.

The DA also calls for the Health Department to work with the private sector to allow community service doctors and nurses to fulfil their community service duty in private facilities.

Added to this, the DA will write to the Portfolio Committee Chairperson on Health, Kenneth Jacobs to call on Minister Joe Phaahla and the Department to appear before the committee to give answers to the following:

  1. details on how many community service doctors and nurses are on the Department’s data system in the past 5 years;
  2. details on how many have still not been paid, and how many have actually left the system and the country;
  3. details on how many doctors and nurses have left the country in the last 5 years; and
  4. what solutions they can propose to ensure they are placed.

We cannot afford for medical professionals to be unable to find jobs, obtain their qualifications, and be stuck at home with essential medical capabilities that the health sector desperately needs.