Doctors crisis hits harder

Alfred Moselakgomo

Alfred Moselakgomo

The South African Medical Association (Sama) has called for an urgent meeting with the Mpumalanga health department over the shortage of doctors in the province.

This is after Sama received reports that after-hour emergency services had discontinued at Bethal, Standerton, Secunda and Ermelo hospitals, as well as all district hospitals, due to the shortage of medical officers.

The association said yesterday it was concerned about the stoppage of the emergency services at Mpumalanga state hospitals because of the doctors' crisis.

Sama spokesman Adri van Eeden said Sama had made suggestions to the national Department of Health last year on the envisaged doctors' crisis.

"They were very receptive to the suggestions and advised different provinces to implement them to avert a crisis.

"But some provinces such as Mpumalanga did not implement them and this is why they are now experiencing these problems," Van Eeden said.

"In addition, Rob Ferreira Hospital in Nelspruit, which is classified as a provincial hospital as well as a referral hospital for the two hospitals, has closed its maternity ward.

"It has not been admitting new patients after hours since January 25," Van Eeden added.

He said it was sad that interns who worked under the supervision of medical officers were now expected to work without any supervision.

This, he added, had compromised care for the patients. This problem had emerged after the internship for doctors, which was formerly one year, was changed to two years.

This had, therefore, created a gap in the provision of medical services by doctors, he added.