EDITORIAL | Health system must solve staff shortage, or it will collapse

The SAPS has re-employed 2,000 reservists. The health department should be equipped to do the same

24 January 2021 - 17:54 By sunday times daily

​“Mr President, please hear our cries. Lord please have mercy on us!” read the Facebook post on a memorial page paying tribute to health workers taken by Covid-19. A scroll through the photo gallery paints a silent picture of loss — loss of loved ones, loss of expertise. Then came the devastating news of a Netcare 911 helicopter crash, wiping out five experts in their fields, en route to help a gravely ill Covid-19 patient.

Our health system is holding on for dear life. Last week, the Sunday Times interviewed the family of Rowena Hawkey, who died in Durban’s Wentworth hospital under nightmarish conditions, with 11 doctors in isolation and 17 nurses off because of the virus. This week, SA Medical Association (Sama) chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee called on the health department to lift the moratorium on filling thousands of vacancies. The strain on our systems is unmeasurable and with our state coffers running on empty, the government says it is prioritising money for vaccines — rightly so...

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