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Fri Nov 28 23:37:33 SAST 2014

Stretched doctor finally 'loses it'

AMUKELANI CHAUKE | 25 February, 2013 00:36

Image by: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

As the Gauteng department of health's financial woes continue to cripple service delivery, a medic at Sebokeng Hospital regrets becoming a doctor.

When the casualty ward at the hospital, in the Vaal region, south of Johannesburg, received multiple emergencies last weekend, Dr Singe Chonco allegedly broke down in front of patients, paramedics and nurses because she "can't take it [any] more".

Chonco - a junior doctor with only three years of experience - was the only doctor at the hospital because of a "go slow" by doctors in the public sector.

At weekends there should be at least three doctors on duty but the other doctors refused to work overtime because they have been accused by the department of abusing the overtime system.

Some doctors have reportedly been owed up to R100000 each since October, when the department stopped paying them for working extra shifts.

Health department spokesman Simon Zwane said the department was not aware of the incident.

"The department has approved overtime claims already [made] but will not condone further unauthorised overtime.

"The department has put in place measures to support the hospital. Emergency cases are being diverted to where there is full capacity; efforts are being [made] to appoint more doctors," Zwane said.

Chonco's reported breakdown occurred when paramedics brought in six critically injured patients on Sunday last week.

Two of the six died that day.

Their relatives are believed to have berated Chonco for taking "too long" to attend to their loved ones.

Paramedics and a doctor from the Kopanong Hospital, to which she had diverted some patients with less serious injuries, threatened to report her for diverting them without first stabilising them.

Chonco refused to speak, or confirm the incident, and referred queries to hospital CEO Dr Zolela Ngcwabe, who could not be reached for comment.

A senior doctor, who asked not to be named, confirmed the incident.

"The matter has been escalated to the hospital's management. The overtime situation has had dire consequences.

"There has been no one on call since Tuesday and I don't know what will happen in the coming week as it is month end."

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