Doctors affiliated to the South African Medical Association ( SAMA) have accused the Limpopo Health department for non-payment of salaries.
SAMA says doctors serving as interns, those doing community service and other medical officers, have either not been paid or only received a portion of their salaries in January. The protest action will not affect hospital sections dealing with emergencies.
The protest over salary discrepancies was also staged around the same period last year.
Doctors are accusing the Health Department of not processing their salaries for the month of January. In some instances, doctors were paid just portions of their overall salaries.
“We last received our salaries in December so we did not receive our January salaries and there was no notice or warning of some sort that we won’t receive our salaries. We like taking care of our patients even though we are not paid but we are just saying let them respect us for what we do. At least they must pay us,” said one intern.
The disgruntled medical workers gathered outside the headquarters of the provincial health department to submit their memorandum.
SAMA says Out Patients Services at most public hospitals will be impacted. This excludes all emergency sections, including the Intensive Care Unit and the labour or maternity ward among others.
“We have a responsibility to our communities. We have decided that we will only leave the critical areas covered, critical areas include casualty, the labour ward, the ICU and emergency theater. These are the areas we have left colleagues in the hospitals to cover. But the out patient services that is the ordinary clinic on a daily basis for patients to come and get medication will not function today,” says SAMA’s Seshoka Muila.
The striking doctors have demanded to meet with Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba, who was unable to receive the memorandum.
The Health Department in Limpopo says the protest action by doctors, including interns and community service practitioners, is illegal.
Spokesperson Thabiso Teffo says Ramathuba will not be able to receive the doctors memorandum due to other engagements.
“The MEC would have been available had we not been ambushed. I mean we believe that this is an ambush and secondly you know that the department of health works with quite a lot of sectors because some of these particular issues are purely administrative and can be addressed from an administrative point of view,” Teffo says.
The doctors have vowed to press on with their action until the non-payment of salaries has been resolved.