The message clearly has not got through to the Health Department: the proposed five percent salary increase for underpaid and overworked state doctors is an insult.
The doctors want a 50percent hike, which in their case is not an unreasonable demand.
Two years ago the exploited medics were promised an occupation-specific increase that would acknowledge their training. But they also work unhealthy hours in appalling conditions.
The department's latest offer doesn't even restore the buying power they have lost to inflation while waiting for the government to fulfil its promise.
We can't hope to deliver reasonable health services to the needy population until doctors in the public service are paid fairly.
Why should they put up with the inhumane conditions they endure in the public service for a fraction of the reward accorded to doctors in the private service or - heaven forbid - abroad?
Doctors and nurses are the heart and soul of any functional system of healthcare. They are the frontline troops who provide patients the service, care and attention they have long been promised.
Until we start treating them with the dignity they deserve, South Africa can never hope to provide effective public healthcare.