It took almost 14 years and a ruling from the highest court in the land, but the principal and chief specialists at teaching hospitals in the Western Cape were on Friday declared entitled to a scarce-skills allowance.
The Constitutional Court has refused the MEC for health, Nomafrench Mbombo, leave to appeal a 2018 ruling that the staff in question were eligible for the allowance.
Acting Constitutional Court Justice Rammaka Mathopo said in handing down judgment that the allowance was geared towards allowing practitioners “to render their specialist clinical services using their scarce clinical skills in the public health sector for the benefit of members of disadvantaged communities within the provincial hospitals catchment area to whom the department owes service delivery”.
He said principal and specialist practitioners were considered “a rare commodity in the field of medicine” and the allowance was offered “in an effort to encourage highly qualified and experienced health professionals, such as the respondents, to remain in the employment of the state…”
Government offers scarce skills allowances to professionals in fields critical to meeting SA’s socio-economic needs and to furthering the country’s goals and objectives.
The scarce skills allowance the court pronounced on, was contained in a 2004 collective agreement made at the Bargain-ing Council.
The agreement sought to “provide a scarce skills allowance to health professionals in public health sector hospitals or intutions as managed by health employers ”.
The Groote Schuur Provincial and Tygerberg hospitals are the subject of long-standing agreements with the provincial deparment of health and the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University, in terms of which they are teaching hospitals for the training of the universities’ faculties of medicine.
In terms of those agreements, the universities and provincial administration provide staff who run the teaching hospitals or “joint staff ”.
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