The Eastern Cape health department has been ordered to stop the appointment of all new doctors and cut its budget by R205-million, in a move that may leave as many as 400 junior doctors, who are currently performing community service, in limbo.
According to a report by the Herald newspaper, the department was instructed by provincial treasury to cut its budget and stop the appointments of all new doctors in a bid to recoup on an over-expenditure of nearly R660-million.
According to a letter written by the treasury last month, the measures must be implemented in the current financial year.
The treasury forecasts a further overdraft of R452-million if drastic cost-cutting strategies are not implemented.
Junior Doctors’ Association of South Africa chair Tende Makofane said doctors on the ground were extremely upset.
“The fact that all appointments have been stopped affects more than 400 junior doctors in the province.
“We have called on the minister of health and the national treasury to intervene,” he said.
“We reserve the right to take legal action if we do not reach a favourable outcome.”
But health superintendent-general Dr Siva Pillay said, in a letter to the treasury, his department would employ 1 114 doctors during this financial year.
“It cannot be classified as new additional appointments because we are absorbing those doctors who completed their community service. It is the same people. Nothing is going to change. Doctors will be appointed,” he said. — Sapa