South Africa 21.8.2018 04:50 pm

NHI will collapse healthcare, practitioners likely to leave – Solidarity

Nicolien Welthagen, a senior researcher at the Solidarity Research Institute, at a 'crisis summit' on the proposed NHI in Pretoria, 21 August 2018. Picture: ANA

Nicolien Welthagen, a senior researcher at the Solidarity Research Institute, at a 'crisis summit' on the proposed NHI in Pretoria, 21 August 2018. Picture: ANA

Research found more than 80% of healthcare professionals don’t believe the NHI could work, and would consider migration if it is implemented.

Health practitioners in South Africa are very sceptical about government’s proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) plan, with many considering migrating to other countries if the ambitious project is implemented – according to a report released by trade union Solidarity today.

The results of the research project by the Solidarity Research Institute “which determined the opinions and feelings of medical practitioners regarding the NHI”, was presented in Pretoria at the Solidarity Occupational Guild for Health Care Practitioner’s “crisis summit” on the proposed NHI.

According to Nicolien Welthagen, a senior researcher at the Solidarity Research Institute, this research is one of the first important steps to reveal the real feelings and opinions of practitioners regarding the proposed NHI in public.

“In the first place, the research found that practitioners feel that there has not been sufficient consultation with them on the government’s plans to implement the NHI. A total of 72,6 percent of practitioners indicated that they have not been consulted during the process, while 38,8 percent of general practitioners feel that they have sufficient knowledge of the NHI,” said Welthagen.

She added that the research found that more than 80 percent of healthcare workers believe that health practitioners will leave South Africa if government steams ahead with the roll-out of the NHI.

“The extent of this issue is emphasised by 81,7 percent of the respondents who indicated that they believe the NHI will destabilise the health sector,” said Welthagen.

Solidarity cautioned that the concern about healthcare in South Africa, in light of the NHI, must not be regarded lightly, and is the reason Solidarity Occupational Guild for Health Care Practitioners organised “a crisis summit” involving experts from the healthcare environment and economists.

According to Dirk Hermann, chief operations officer of Solidarity, healthcare practitioners now need much support.

“One of the first occupational guilds in the Solidarity camp is the Guild for Health Care Practitioners which has been founded because of the current concerns in the profession because of the proposed implementation of the NHI. The Guild does what a guild must do and that is to protect the profession, which is possible by a guild standing strong,” said Hermann.

He pointed out that the current public health system is failing.

“The test runs of the NHI failed, but our government does not like small failures, they like big failures. This summit serves as input from the Solidarity Occupational Guild for Health Practitioners’ commentary on the proposed bill. Our legal team, under the leadership of one of South Africa’s leading legal experts, Advocate Albert Lamey, will consider all the input we receive for our report on the [NHI] bill,” said Hermann.

Earlier this month, Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said the roll-out of government’s NHI plan is certain, and will guarantee the provision of quality healthcare for more than 60 percent of South Africans who can’t afford medical aid cover.

“The more people we put on treatment, the more affordable it [the prices of medicine and healthcare] becomes, not the other way round. But in South Africa we choose the other way round. They say ‘these poor people are going to be very expensive, we cannot afford this NHI’, they want to stay with the 16 percent that are on medical aid,” said Motsoaledi at the time.

African News Agency (ANA)

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