Health minister: Doctors should be paid

02 February 2011 - 15:04 By Sapa

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi is unhappy about the failure by many provinces to pay junior doctors, his spokesman said.

"The minister's view is that this should not be happening, it's just not right. When people get hired they have to be paid, this is just not acceptable," said Fidel Hadebe.

Motsoaledi has instructed his director general Precious Matsoso to call all provincial heads of departments to report back on the cause of the problem and its extent.

He was looking at setting up a committee tasked with making sure similar problems did not occur in the future.

Hadebe said it would be difficult to say when the committee would be set up as the minister had to meet provincial MECs to discuss it.

"We are concerned that the situation is creating unnecessary problems for us. These are people we are running short of [doctors]. We cannot afford these sorts of mistakes," Hadebe said.

The Junior Doctors' Association of SA on Tuesday expressed concern at the increasing trend of provincial health departments failing to pay doctors.

The Eastern Cape, Limpopo, the Free State and Gauteng were identified as four provinces where junior doctors went unpaid.

The provinces largely denied that this was a widespread problem -- the Eastern Cape health department said only five doctors had not been paid after they failed to submit their qualifications.

Eight doctors were not paid in Limpopo and this was due to a human error. They were erroneously captured on the system as working one year when their internships ran for two.

In Gauteng, 40 doctors, medical interns and registrars experienced a delay in the payment of their salaries.

Free State health spokesman Jabu Mbalula said there was no problem with unpaid junior doctors in the province.

"There was only a problem with one doctor in one hospital in the eastern Free State. The issue there was simply around the wrong capturing of his identity number," he said.

The doctor was notified and would be paid by Monday, he said.

Judasa said qualified people should be placed in management positions to avoid the "annual crisis" repeating itself.

The treatment doctors received was "deteriorating to the morale of the profession", it said.

The Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA was "gravely dismayed" by the Gauteng and Limpopo health departments' failure to pay junior doctors.

The organisation echoed Judasa's call for the appointment of qualified individuals in management positions.