The South Africa Institute of Race Relations says the National Health Insurance (NHI) will lead to massive job losses in the provinces.

It says with the NHI Bill indicating that there will be centralisation of health services to the national Department of Health and people employed in provinces will be left jobless.

The Institute’s Johan Serfontein says the national Department of Health is not competent to run hospitals.

Addressing the media in Auckland Park in Johannesburg on Thursday, Serfontein wants a proper estimate of the costing of the NHI.

“The big concern is if all of these hospitals are moved out of the provincial space, as is currently proposed in the bill, the question is what happens to the staff at provincial health administration departments and that’s why it’s very strange that trade unions like Cosatu are very supportive of the NHI … because if NHI gets implemented like this, there’s going to be massive staff cuts at provincial health departments and those are all union members. It’s very strange that unions are so supportive of this with that being the case.”

Constitutionality of NHI Bill

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Health wants a legal report from the State Attorney on the constitutionality of the bill.

The bill was tabled before Parliament last week. But opposition parties and other sectors of society have raised a slew of reservations, and some the possibility of a legal challenge.

Health Portfolio Committee Chair, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo says as the committee prepares to process the bill, it needs feedback from the State Attorney.  It specifically wants to know what legal advise was given to Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, on the constitutionality of the bill.

Dhlomo says the committee wants to address the concerns of those who believe they will be able to challenge it. He says the public participation process must not be delayed.