'Too much work, too few doctors'

17 May 2016 - 02:00 By KATHARINE CHILD

Limpopo health officials staved off a strike by doctors unhappy about work conditions and lack of equipment. Doctors say hospitals lack basic medicines and equipment. They are also unhappy about overtime pay. There is a severe shortage of staff in the province, meaning some doctors work 150 hours of overtime a month.Although the department caps the level of overtime pay at 80 hours a month, SA Medical Association member Sadiki Tshilidzi said some doctors worked more hours than that. They needed to be reimbursed for each hour worked or more doctors needed to be hired to decrease the workload. Tshilidzi said doctors faced making mistakes because of fatigue.The department has agreed to audit equipment and repair broken machinery. But Tshilidzi said it could take months for machines to be repaired or replaced. The national branch of the association condemned the planned strike saying it was illegal for doctors to strike and anyone who participated could face sanction from the health department and the professional body that regulated doctors.Mark Sonderup, of the association, said: "The province says it can't afford all the demands and that's true. But these issues need to be resolved."The province's department of health did not respond to requests for comment.

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