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By Gcina Ntsaluba

Journalist


New doctors didn’t get January salary, fear months without pay

The director-general of health has made an undertaking that they will get paid today, but the doctors believe the department 'has dropped the ball'.


Hundreds of newly appointed doctors in Gauteng have not been paid their January salaries due to the health department’s late job placement of community service doctors in public hospitals.

The young doctors fear that the department’s failure to allocate funds for their posts could go on for another few months, meaning they won’t get paid.

In a January 30 memorandum, circulated by head of department professor Mkhululi Lukhele, it said there would be a delay in the payment of January salaries.

According to Wednesday’s internal memorandum, the delays in payment were due to the late creation of posts.

The department said there were additional interns and community service doctors that the department had been requested to accommodate.

Lukhele said: “Despite the shortcomings stated above, the head of department has arranged for additional supplementary payment runs to accommodate appointments that would be delayed.”

He said the payroll runs that were scheduled for January 30, would be paid on February 4, while those scheduled for February 4 were to be paid on February 7.

According to posts on the Junior Doctors Association of SA (Judasa) chat group, distraught doctors are convinced the department has dropped the ball.

“We have signed our contracts in Gauteng but the department hasn’t allocated/funded our posts yet. So we are not getting paid at month-end. We’ve heard this from a few hospitals, so it seems it could be the whole province,” one of the doctors complained.

The delayed payments prompted some doctors to speculate that their inability to opt out of community service is being used to exploit their service.

“They pocketed our one-month salary. I believe that they will definitely pocket more than one-month salary.”

Dr Rhulani Ngwenya of SA Medical Association (Sama) said: “Sama took drastic steps to ensure that payment of remunerations are effected accordingly”.

As a result, the director-general of health has made an undertaking that all the doctors affected by the circular would receive their payment by no later than today.

According to a doctor placed in a KwaZulu-Natal hospital, their situation was even worse. He and several others in the province have been unemployed so far, since the provincial department apparently refused to allow them to report for duty.

“They will have to back pay,” the young doctor said. “At least [young doctors in Gauteng] are working. KwaZulu-Natal on the other hand, we’re not allowed to work until we get our contracts (that’s what my allocated facility said to me).”

According to an internal memorandum circulated by Gauteng health on Wednesday, the delays in payment were due to the late creation of posts.

The KwaZulu-Natal department of health failed to respond to The Citizen’s requests for comment before the time of going to press.

INFO

Community service

  • All doctors and medical health professionals are required to complete one year of community service. Failure to complete this means doctors are not allowed to go into private practice, or practice in their chosen professions in South Africa;
  • The Legal Resources Centre said they view the rejection of any eligible and qualified medical professional by the public health system with grave concern. This is especially in view of the well-documented need experienced by citizens dependent on the public health system; and
  • The right to practice one’s profession is relevant when raised by eligible and qualified medical professionals whose services appear to be rejected despite the great need for it, said Sharita Samuel.

gcinan@citizen.co.za

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