DA applauds PSA’s call for caution on NHI​

Issued by Michele Clarke MP – DA Shadow Minister of Health
17 Apr 2024 in News

Please find attached a soundbite by Michele Clarke MP.

The DA commends the Public Servants Association (PSA) for its prudent advice to President Cyril Ramaphosa, urging a delay in the signing of the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill. The PSA’s stance aligns with our ongoing concerns regarding the NHI’s potential ramifications on South Africa’s healthcare system and economy.

In light of the PSA’s cautionary stance, underscored by the uncertainty surrounding the post-election political landscape, the DA reiterates its parliamentary query on the dire state of healthcare staffing. According to recent figures revealed in response to a written parliamentary question by the DA, the national vacancy rate for medical officers stands at a concerning 14.2%. The most affected regions include the Free State (23.7%), KwaZulu-Natal (20.37%), and North West (22%). Equally alarming is the vacancy rate for nurses at 14.7%, with even higher deficits for psychologists (24.36%) and psychiatrists (41.89%).

The healthcare system is already burdened by critical staff shortages, as evidenced by the staggering 18 804 vacancies for doctors as of February 2023. Tragically, approximately 800 young, qualified doctors remain unemployed amidst this crisis.

The surge in medical negligence cases over the last decade, coupled with a steep rise in medico-legal claims, paints a grim picture of a healthcare system in distress. Moreover, the erosion of the private health sector and the inadequate functionality of public health facilities exacerbate these challenges.

The current public health system is ill-prepared to handle the influx of new patients under the proposed NHI scheme. Despite government assurances, the NHI fails to address the root causes of healthcare inadequacies, including chronic understaffing and systemic inefficiencies.

The PSA’s concerns regarding the NHI’s funding model resonate strongly with the DA’s apprehensions. Proposals for tax hikes to finance the NHI risk exacerbating financial burdens on already struggling South Africans, particularly amidst economic uncertainty and soaring living costs. The DA echoes the PSA’s call for government to prioritise job creation, combat fiscal inefficiencies, and address corruption to bolster revenue streams and alleviate taxpayer pressure.

In solidarity with the PSA, the DA urges President Ramaphosa to heed their counsel and delay the signing of the NHI Bill. It is imperative that government undertakes comprehensive consultations and considers viable alternatives to ensure that any healthcare reforms genuinely advance the well-being of all South Africans.