At a time when South Africa's hospitals are faced with critical staff shortages which impacts on the health-care system, some intern and community service doctors remain unemployed. According to a Weekend Argus report, South African Medical Association (SAMA) vice-chair Dr Mark Sonderup confirmed that there was still a “substantial” number of doctors who remained unemployed.
“It doesn't make sense that government invests in educating doctor and then they cannot help them to progress. This is unacceptable. Senior leadership in the country needs to step in now and address this as a matter of urgency,” said Sonderup.
He said the National Department of Health was of the view that South African doctors who trained in the country should be given first preference. “We understand this, but it is our view that there should be no problems with regards to placing other folks such as those who have been naturalised,” said Sonderup in the rpeort.
The Department of Health's Gavin Steel, who handles doctor intern and community service placements said preference was given to South African students who studied at a South African university. He said there were two doctor intake cycles annually in January and July. “In terms of these cycles for this year, everyone who was eligible and needed to be placed, has been placed,” said Steel.
Steel said one of the challenges the department faced with regards to community service doctor placements was that many doctors did not want to accept the posts they were offered.
“Community service has been introduced to address the legacies of apartheid. This means that service has to be offered in rural communities. However, Cape Town, Durban and Joburg are the preferred choices of these doctors, and there are not as many posts in these cities,” said Steel.
He is quoted in the report as saying when doctors studied medicine, they were well aware of the fact that they would have to serve a community service period. He said there were often instances where community service doctors opted not to take up posts they were placed in.
In KwaZulu-Natal, SAMA has confirmed that it is trying to assist more than 40 doctors who have yet to be placed at local hospitals, says a Sunday Tribune report.
Steel said there were two doctor intake cycles annually, in January and July. “In terms of these cycles for this year, everyone who was eligible and needed to be placed has been placed. I cannot really comment on the 40 students mentioned by SAMA KZN as I have not seen this list,” he said.
[link url="https://www.iol.co.za/weekend-argus/unemployed-intern-doctors-16850737"]Weekend Argus report[/link]
[link url="https://www.iol.co.za/sunday-tribune/news/over-40-doctors-unemployed-in-kzn-despite-hospital-staff-shortage-16850119"]Sunday Tribune report[/link]