Intern doctors finally get January salary

Jubilee Hospital interns trying to bring every cent to the table to buy lunch.
Jubilee Hospital interns trying to bring every cent to the table to buy lunch.
Image: TWITTER/ Dr Nhlakanipho Maganane

A last-minute payment of more than 200 intern doctors yesterday averted a legal showdown with the Gauteng department of health.

The doctors had not been paid the January salaries, leading to their association serving the department with an ultimatum to pay or face court action.

The department failed to meet a January 31 deadline for salary payments due to administrative delays, placing scores of intern doctors under financial strain.

Yesterday, the South African Medical Association (Sama) said it had served the department with a letter of demand on Friday, with a view to heading to the high court today if the 222 doctors were not paid.

However, spokesperson for health MEC Dr Gwen Ramokgopa, Khutso Rabothatha, said intern doctors had been paid by midday yesterday, adding that there was no need for Sama to approach the high court for relief.

"There won't be any need for that anymore because people were paid," Rabothatha said.

Yesterday, Sama board member Dr Rhulani Ngwenya said they served the department with a letter of demand after some people were still unpaid by February 7.

Ngwenya said the aim was to seek an urgent interdict forcing the department to pay salaries.

He said Sama would verify the list of doctors to ensure that everyone was covered.

Frustrated doctors had taken to social media to share pictures of their colleagues counting coins to buy food, while some posted videos of themselves singing songs about going hungry.

Yesterday, DA health spokesperson MEC Jack Bloom said the payments were a relief, however, the salary crisis reflected poor planning and a lack of proper administration on the part of the department.

"People called me saying that they have been paid, which is good but it is unacceptable for people to get their January salaries 11 days into February.

"This is not a good way for doctors to start the year," Bloom said.

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