Union urges govt to allocate funds to health department

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Members of the South Africa Medical Association Trade Union (Samatu) has urged government to allocate funds to the department to enable it to employ more doctors.

Members of Samatu marched in four provinces last week, in an effort to highlight the plight of unemployed doctors.

Some public healthcare facilities are operating on skeleton staff, negatively impacting the quality of medical care provided to patients.

The Samatu’s First Deputy President, Dr. Nkateko Mnisi says, “The doctors that are currently employed by the healthcare sector, a lot of them are finding themselves burnt out because they must work longer hours and the pressure on them is so much more because of the burden of disease as well as the growing population in South Africa. ”

“Here we are in a situation where we do have doctors out there who are qualified and willing to work anywhere, but the reality is that people deserve quality healthcare which is a basic human right. I am hearing what he is saying but the reality is that if we want quality healthcare in our lifetime then there must be some compromises that must be made by the government.”

Budgetary constraints 

The Health Department has blamed budgetary constraints for being unable to employ a large number of qualified medical doctors.

The department’s Deputy Director-General, Percy Mahlathi says, “We need doctors in the public health sector, in hospitals but we depend on a budget that gets allocated by National Treasury to the provinces. So, the provinces allocate the money for various health professionals. If we do not have enough budget, we cannot employ more people because you can’t employ somebody and say I don’t have the money to pay you. So, our major problem is we don’t have enough budget.”

VIDEO: Samatu members held a march last week: