If South African medical interns and community service doctors refuse to be placed at medical institutions in rural areas, “we will deploy foreign nationals, because they are always willing to work”.
So said Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, who added there were 89 foreign nationals, who completed their studies in South Africa, who have applied to be placed.
“We needed to place all South Africans first, because this is statutory,” he said.
Motsoaledi was speaking at a media briefing in Pretoria on the issue of various medical doctors who claim there are no posts for them to do their internships, their one-year community service and to obtain full-time employment as qualified doctors.
Motsoaledi said the department had received 1 499 applications for medical internships and made 1 498 offers, with 22 applicants declining.
“One placement is still pending and has been referred to the Health Professions’ Council of South Africa (HPCSA) for review. For ethical reasons I am unable to elaborate further,” he said.
Motsoaledi added that there were still 45 internship positions available in the Bloemfontein Complex and the Mofumahadi Mopeli hospital in the Free State, as well as the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha. The department also received 1 064 applications from doctors who needed to do their community service and seven of these applicants declined their offers.
He said some of the reasons for the declines ranged from marriage to family responsibility, medical conditions, religion and owning expensive property in a particular geographic location.
“Despite trying very, very hard, the department is not always in a position to accommodate all the requirements of the applicants,” Motsoaledi said. He said they had received 88 applications for community service from foreign nationals and had managed to place 75 of them.
The remaining 13 foreign nationals would be placed because there were still posts available.
He said there were still 147 posts available for community service doctors and he advised them to get in contact with the department.