Government working to place all unemployed doctors by 1st April

  • Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla held a media briefing this week to provide an update on the status of unemployed doctors in South Africa.
  • The minister explained that government is working to have all unemployed doctors placed by 1st April 2024.
  • The announcement has come after government was criticised for failing to place doctors who have completed statutory community service programmes, but remain unemployed.

In September last year we reported on unemployed doctors in South Africa, with many who had completed their training overseas or with foreign institutions still unable to take their local certification exams and begin working at hospitals.

While unemployed doctors remains an issue in the country, it now looks like government is starting to do something about. This according to Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla, who this week held a media briefing to provide an update on the status of doctors, as well as unpack some elements related to NHI and COVID-19 in the country.

Per SA News, Phaahla explained that he expects that all unemployed doctors will be placed at institutions by the beginning of April.

“I am, therefore, happy to announce that working with the Minister of Finance we have a solution to address the current challenge of doctors who want to stay in the public service but could not be offered funded posts,” he told media.

“Our national team is working with the National Treasury team to thrash out the details and working with provincial health departments to speed up the process so that by 1st April 2024 all those who will not be already in posts can be able to start,” the minister added.

With a little over six weeks in order to address this pressing matter, it remains to be seen whether the Department of Health can indeed engage with relevant stakeholders in order to meet the newly shared deadline.

That said, it is unclear just how many unemployed doctors there are in need of places, along with the fact that there is seemingly no penalty should the 1st April deadline not be met.

“The measures we are working on with the Minister of Finance will give us sufficient breathing space while we are working on long-term solutions,” Phaahla pointed out while not offering specifics.

He did, however, highlight the impact that the Nelson Mandela Fidel Castro programme in Cuba has had locally. The number of graduates entering the programme has increased significantly, with 1 338 in 2014 and now 2 210 this year.

“The medical profession is very key in the multidisciplinary teams and that is why we are doing everything to retain as many doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and other members of the teams in the public health system,” he emphasised.

With government also aiming to roll out National Health Insurance soon, placing these unemployed doctors at facilities that will need a larger workforce will prove imperative, the minister concluded.

[Image – CC BY-ND 2.0 DEED GovernmentZA on Flickr]


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