Cut number of cabinet ministers, not doctors in EC state hospitals

The Democratic Alliance is most perturbed to learn (Rapport, 6 November 2016) that our government shuffled departmental budgets to appease the “Fees Must Fall” movement and therefore cannot afford national internships for 307 graduate doctors from the 2017 cohort.   These funds should be taken from other sources.  We should be cutting the size of the cabinet, not the number of doctors.

As state health facilities in the Eastern Cape are already under-resourced and often understaffed, this alarming information will add to the breakdown of health services at our hospitals, increase the workload of already overburdened staff, compound queues and waiting time at clinics and outpatient departments.

It sends a message of hopelessness and despair for the future to the 307 doctors who will graduate in 2017 but fail to secure internships in state facilities.

It is dreadfully short-sighted — if not reckless crisis management — of the ANC-led government to take a cut from its departmental budgets without considering the risks and implications of such changes.

South Africans deserve a reliable government capable of planning and budgeting that puts its money where its mouth is, serves its entire people without fear or favour and honours a constitutional democracy bought in blood.

The Department of Health must address both its budgeting shortfall and the plight of the 307 doctors who will not be placed at state facilities in 2017.  I have submitted legislature questions to the Eastern Cape MEC for Health, Dr Phumza Dyantyi, to highlight this issue and for further information about how many vacancies there are for doctors at our state health facilities and how many of the 307 students-doctors were supposed to come to this province. — Celeste Barker MPL, Shadow MEC for Health