The department of health in KwaZulu-Natal has retracted an internal circular to all districts instructing them to suspend further recruitment and employment of foreign doctors. The circular, dated 4 September, says the department has recruited a huge number of young South Africans to be trained as doctors in Cuba and if recruitment of foreign doctors continues, the department would not have sufficient posts to absorb the nationals. Therefore, the recruitment of foreign doctors should be reviewed.

The South African Medical Association Chairperson, Dr Mvuyisi Mzukwa, says the circular was premature and stands a chance of causing more problems in the health sector.

“We do want employment of South African doctors, but what we are saying is that you cannot put a moratorium on it to say stop employing foreign doctors unless you have enough South African senior doctors that are going to be dealing with those posts. Our concern is not the filling of posts, but also service delivery. We are for the employment of South African doctors; that’s what we want, but where our own are not available then employ foreign doctors.”

The provincial Department of Health was not available for comment.