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After expressing outrage at the Eastern Cape health department’s failure to pay several of its doctors since December, the South African Medical Association (SAMA) has now issued the department with an ultimatum to remunerate all unpaid doctors and other healthcare workers in the province within seven days of this statement.
The association is demanding that firstly, all currently contracted and employed doctors be duly paid for work done, and secondly, that there should be no moratorium on the appointment of new doctors - most importantly in a province where staff challenges are already creating difficulties in the delivery of healthcare. Failure to respond to the ultimatum within seven days will result in SAMA calling for the department to be placed under national administration to comprehensively address this crisis.
SAMA is of the view that at the core of the problem is a major breakdown in the administration of the Health Department in the Eastern Cape. “Particularly disturbing,” SAMA acting chairman, Dr Mark Sonderup, said in his summation of the situation, “is the fact that this issue has now arisen after the recent criticisms leveled at doctors by the department for allegedly not wanting to work in the province." “We strongly condemn the chaos that has resulted in this adverse situation now facing the people of the Eastern Cape in terms of their healthcare,” he added.
Dr Phophi Ramathuba, chair of SAMA’s Public Sector Doctors committee, reiterated that the non-payment of doctors and the non-appointment of new doctors with no vacant posts being filled due to the moratorium has taken the Eastern Cape health problems to crisis proportions: “These conditions of work are unacceptable, to say the least, for our doctors in that province and furthermore,” she stressed, “they should not be held responsible should they run out of patience and opt to withdraw their services as a result.”
About the South African Medical Association (SAMA)
The South African Medical Association (SAMA) is a non-statutory, professional association for public and private sector medical practitioners. Registered as an independent, non-profit Section 21 company SAMA acts as a trade union for its public sector members and as a champion for doctors and patients.
PR and Media Liaison officer
Tel +27 (12) 481 2052
Dr Mark Sonderup
Cell: 083 626 1909
Chairperson: Public Sector Doctors
Dr Phophi Ramathuba
082 903 8498