More than 200 doctors still waiting for community service placement

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

The DA will write to Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla, regarding information we received that more than 200 doctors that have successfully completed their internships have yet to be placed for community service.

This state of affairs contradicts the Minister’s statement on 5 February 2024 that “as of now, all those graduates who were eligible for internship placement, have been placed. Equally, all those who finished the internship and were eligible to start community service have been placed”. According to the complaints to the DA, the Internship and Community Service Programme (ICSP) simply states that there are no open positions when contacted for information and assistance.

The DA will also request an update regarding his promise that all of the 800 unemployed doctors would be employed as Grade 1 Medical Officers on a permanent basis by 1 April 2024.

The current national vacancy rate for medical officers, as revealed in answer to a written parliamentary question by the DA , is 14.2%, with the most vacancies in the Free State (23.7%), KwaZulu-Natal (20.37%), and North West (22%).

The national average vacancy rate for nurses is 14.7%, 24.36% for psychologists, and 41.89% for psychiatrists (excluding Gauteng).

This while General Medical Practitioner, Resident Medical Officer, Emergency Medicine Specialist, and General Medicine Specialist Physician have all been listed on the 2024 National List of Occupations in High Demand. This list also includes specialty nurses and clinical psychologists among the many medical professions.

The severe staff shortages due to budget cuts have a tremendous impact on the delivery of health services, leaving both patients and the medical professionals treating them vulnerable to deteriorating physical and mental health.

Minister Phaahla’s unrealised promises only adds to the stress of South African medical professionals, whether they’re experts or interns. It is clear that the ANC government’s only plan is to deploy cadres for their deeply flawed National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme.