Make allowance to pay healthcare workers' overtime

Healthcare workers are vaccinated, 17 February 2021, at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg.
Healthcare workers are vaccinated, 17 February 2021, at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

Hospital managers have been faced with acute shortages of health professionals for many years. The main reason for this is an inadequate health budget. Hospitals hire many different categories of staff because of the nature of the service they provide.

It is a fact that for many industries, the bulk of the budget is consumed by staff salaries. Where patient safety is crucial, saving money should never compromise patient care. The fact that we have had overseas companies regularly coming to SA to poach our health professionals shows how seriously some countries value the health of their citizens.

Many unacceptable reasons have been given to explain the huge staff shortages; budgetary constraints affecting training of more health professionals, no money to hire some doctors and nurses who sit idling at home after completing their training, the exodus of health professionals to countries that offer better working conditions.

So, what is to be done? Because if we don't want to see an escalation of medical negligence claims due to severe staff shortages where we end up with children born with cerebral palsy for instance, we have no choice but to make an allowance for overtime. Where health care is at stake, this should be non-negotiable.

Cometh Dube-Makholwa, Midrand


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