The SA Medical Association (SAMA) is considering going to court to compel the government to finalise placement of junior doctors for internship and community service by no later than 16 December, reports MedicalBrief. According to SAMA, there are 2,472 interns, and 2,252 community service doctors still awaiting placement for work that should start on 1 January.
Each year, numerous trainee doctors are left in limbo each year. Finishing the three years of public service is a legal requirement before South African junior doctors can register and practice as fully-fledged medical officers. The Junior Doctors Association of SA (Judasa) said in June that there were up to 1,000 unfunded intern and community service doctor posts in the public sector.
SAMA said in a statement that it was “completely outraged” by government’s failure to plan for junior doctor’s statutory placement.
“Internship and community service are state imposed requirements as well as being part of medical training. A tremendous amount of time and finance has been invested in training these doctors. This cannot be utilised if they cannot practice and serve the nation.
“South Africa has a dire shortage of medical professionals. According to Worldbank data we sit 130th in the world with 0,9 doctors per 1000 population. This may even be worse now due to recent emigration.
“The State, through the Department of Health, should have known and planned for the these placements. Ministers of both Health and Treasury should have incorporated these placements into the budget adjustments that were tabled in parliament last month. This is a huge priority for our country.
“It's completely unacceptable that this late in the year government is claiming that there is not funding for interns and community service doctors. They have had six years to plan for this!
“These young doctors cannot go and work for themselves( ie open private surgeries or join the private sector) due to the statutory requirements.
“SAMA is insisting that government find the money for these placements, or risk facing the full might of the law. We intend to approach the courts, on an urgent basis, to force government to place all internship and community service doctors by latest the 16th of December 2021,” SAMA said
There are more than 4,000 interns and community service doctors who have yet to be placed, SAMA’s Dr Mzulungile Nodikida. Nodikida said there were 2,472 interns, and 2,252 community service doctors still awaiting placement for work that should start on 1 January.
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