STATE hospital doctors are to strike this Friday to force the government to provide a 50percent increase.
Junior Doctors Association of SA president Bandile Hadebe, told Sowetan yesterday that the one-day strike was "a tactic to force government negotiators" to improve the offer they had tabled in the bargaining chambers.
The association, which is an affiliate of the doctors' union, the SA Medical Association, rejects the government's salary increase offer of between 0,28 and 5percent.
"What has been tabled is unacceptable. That offer means the employer has gone on strike," said Hadebe.
The "main marches" would be held in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, and the following week in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape.
"We have consulted extensively and our members made it clear that we need a well-coordinated strike," he said.
Health spokesperson Fidel Hadebe said if doctors took to the streets, the department would mobilise the army, among others, to assist with the provision of health-care.
"Access to health-care is a constitutional issue, people have a guaranteed right to health care."
He said the health department was "puzzled" over the strike threat because wage negotiations were still being held.
"People might not be happy with what had been tabled but the negotiation process is still on and there is no deadlock," he said.
The Sunday Times reported yesterday that the health system was on the verge of collapse with hundreds of doctors planning to resign.
But the health spokesperson said the health system was "fully functional" and provided health-care to millions despite the various challenges.
"Apart from the issues of remuneration, ageing infrastructure and general management challenges, including financial management, are among the challenges that continue to hamper the health system.
"To suggest that the public health system is collapsing or in a crisis is alarmist at this stage," the health spokesperson said.