Health Minister’s assurances to unemployed doctors prove to be baseless

Issued by Michele Clarke MP – DA Shadow Minister of Health
22 Feb 2024 in News

Earlier this month, the Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, made promises that 800 unemployed doctors would have jobs by April. The Minister’s assurances were apparently based on discussions with National Treasury that funds would be availed in the National Budget. The Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana, delivered the National Budget yesterday and made no mention of filling vacancies within the Department of Health. This proves our belief that the Minister of Health’s assurances were politicking and baseless.

It speaks to an uncaring ANC government that the Minister of Health is willing to make baseless assurances, while medical personnel remain unemployed, and our health care system is on its knees.

While vacancy rates remain massive, the ANC also continues to sell their National Health Insurance (NHI) pipedream. The DA has been unequivocal that we in principle support universal health care, the NHI is however not the answer to the many problems plaguing the public health sector, including, corruption and maladministration; failure to maintain and upgrade health facilities; persistent vacancies; broken and outdated equipment; surgery backlogs; and medicine stockouts.

Despite President Cyril Ramaphosa “looking for his pen” to sign the NHI Bill, no new funds have been allocated. In fact, the provincial national health insurance grant has been lowered from R695 billion in the past year to R456 billion in the next year. Further, NHI grants have been shifted to public health oncology services.

In addition to unfilled vacancies, another emerging issue is that medical personnel overtime is set to face drastic cuts from 1 April. This will cause further staff shortages, particularly during night shifts, weekends, and public holidays. Cuts to overtime will also entail pay cuts to personnel.

Aside from promises, government has yet to provide concrete measures to mend the broken public health care system or implement their NHI. It is nothing but ANC electioneering ploys meant to pull wool over the eyes of the public. They have demonstrated that they are unfit to govern, and it is long overdue that the ANC is removed from office.

We have that opportunity on May 29th, and it is time for a sensible government to rescue South Africa from its failing health care system. We will deliver quality healthcare for all South Africans, by leveraging the strengths of the private sector in partnership with the public sector; as well as governance reforms to address corruption, quality of care and infrastructure maintenance.

South Africans must choose feasible plans and not baseless promises.