The Gauteng department of health’s failure to fulfil a promise to newly appointed interns and community service healthcare professionals in Gauteng means that more than 200 doctors may not show up for work until their outstanding January salaries are paid.
As of yesterday, The Citizen understands, there were 222 outstanding salary payments due to young doctors, who are suffering as a result of the department of health’s delayed processes.
An internal memorandum circulated by the head of department Professor Mkhululi Lukhele to the chief executives of public hospitals said all newly appointed interns and community service health professionals who had not been paid their salaries and who were experiencing problems reporting to duty should apply and would be granted a special leave until salaries were paid.
“CEOs can make other special arrangements with affected individuals, including but not limited to working hours and other personal matters emanating from the inconvenience,” said Lukhele.
He said human resources managers acting in conjunction with the department’s internship curators would be required to keep a detailed record and ensure that special leave was captured and regulated in line with Public Service Regulations.
The South African Medical Association’s (Sama) Dr Angelique Coetzee said the department of health had undertaken to pay all outstanding salaries by yesterday.
“Sama received a few queries that the department of health did not fulfil its promise,” said Coetzee. “This remains a concern to Sama and drastic measures will be taken to address this impasse. All Sama members who have not been paid by today are requested to forward their details, including the name of the hospital, to email@example.com,” she said.
According to the Gauteng department of health’s chief director for human resources development and employee health and wellness programme Dr Sipho Senabe, there were 144 internship and community service candidates who were paid on February 4 and 803 payments were expected to be paid out yesterday.
The Citizen understands that the remaining 222 salary payments will be paid on February 11.
The Democratic Alliance said only 552 of 1 378 junior doctors had been paid by January 31, while some were placed on special leave as they were not able to pay for transport and food.
“Junior doctors at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg hospital have been badly affected and refused to work last weekend,” the party’s Gauteng shadow member of the executive council for health Jack Bloom said. “This is inexcusable treatment of medical professionals who started their first jobs this year.”
He said the health department’s claim that the problem was caused by the late creation of posts was a poor excuse.
“It is yet another indication that the ANC in Gauteng is failing to fix the deep-seated problems in this department, which has been plagued by corruption and mismanagement,” said Bloom.
The Gauteng health department says it currently has 1 528 trainees, although the initial number it was allocated was 1 378.
It says an additional 150 were allocated to ensure all students in need of internship had an opportunity to complete their studies. One mother who posted a comment on social media said her daughter had to borrow money to see her through January.
“My daughter was one of those not paid. I had to borrow money to see her through … When ordinary things like this start to happen in your state then you know the regime has lost control,” she said.