The national Health Department claims to have resolved the shambles with their online application system for community service doctors, but The Citizen reports, according to scores of doctors, this is far from true. The Junior Doctors Association of South Africa’s (Judasa) Telegram chat group for young doctors hoping to apply for placement next year has been flooded by healthcare professionals who fear they may be unemployed by January, since registrations were scheduled to close on 7 August.
The report says they have been unable to access the site, and both the e-mail and telephonic helplines have been less than useless.
National health spokesperson Popo Maja is quoted as saying last week: “We acknowledge when the system first went live, there were problems. This has, however, been rectified.” He claimed the problem had been rectified and applicants could now easily access the site, update their details, and apply for positions. He also claimed they had improved call centres to assist those experiencing problems.
“Unfortunately, there have been up to 5 000 tickets each day, which exceeded the capacity of the call centre. The call centre team have been working extended hours to deal with the backlog.”
But, the report says, according to those reaching out to Judasa, the system has not improved in the least. Many can’t access the site, while those who can, are unable to view or apply for any positions. Some appear to have been deregistered and others claim their uploaded documents have simply been deleted several times.
Many of the doctors have also complained about the department’s strict placement policies, which they say forces them to work in rural areas. Considerations such as being married or pregnant are clearly indicated as bearing no weight in placement, with the only qualifying criteria being a medical condition which requires placement near your physician, or a child who has settled in a school.
“This year, we increased the number of choices to five, of which a maximum of three may be in a given province. Applicants are forced to include rural posts in their selection,” Maja said.
Neither Judasa nor the Health Professions Council of SA responded to requests for comment, the report says.
The Health Department says, meanwhile, it is monitoring the situation when it comes to the placement of junior doctors in internships. Judasa has complained that they are unable to access the system to apply for placements.
Dr Gavin Steel in quoted on 702 as saying: “We have monitored the situation and given the information, we have received from Judasa, we have looked at the current status and we have extended the deadline to the 20th of August.”
Dr Theresa Mwesingwa, national chair for Judasa said that the process has been stressful. “Our main problem is that the department has been a lot of technical problems which thus far have compromised our applicants’ ability to access the system. This is a problem because internships and community service are compulsory for all medical graduates in the whole country.”