Department of Health failing young doctors

Issued by Michele Clarke MP – DA Shadow Minister of Health
04 Dec 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Michele Clarke MP

Yet again, the DA has been inundated with calls from young doctors that need placement for their community service year being left in the lurch by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).

Every year leading up to January and July, many young doctors either get placed too late or not at all, despite jumping through all the HPCSA hoops.

In answer to a written parliamentary question from the DA, the Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, revealed that the Department of Health managed to secure placements for all 2 530 doctors in October already. Which begs the question, why are there still community service doctors struggling with assistance from the HPCSA?

Historically, the Department of Health and the HPCSA tend to shift blame to the doctors for allegedly not applying on time or choosing to defer in order to be placed at a preferred facility. But this does not account for the many young doctors that do apply on time and would willingly be placed in any of South Africa’s health facilities.

Every year thousands of medical students and interns work incredibly hard to be able to one day serve their communities as doctors, only for the Department and the HPCSA to fail them through sheer ineptitude.

And if these young doctors do get placed, they face unemployment once they’ve concluded their close to a decade of training, because the Department of Health does not ensure that budget is allocated to the filling of vacancies.

Yet  Minister Phaahla has no problem forking out more than R30 million for the 44 architects of the NHI.

The DA calls on Minister Phaahla to put his money where his mouth is and personally ensure that each and every community service doctor, nurse, physiotherapist, and other personnel are placed on time, with the support they require.

These young professionals are the future of South African healthcare and the Department of Health needs to either ensure that they are assisted on time or consider partnering with private institutions to fill the gaps. This inept, unprofessional management of the programme must come to an end.

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