South African Medical Association

Media Release | SAMA outraged by the complete mismanagement of the internship programme by the government

SAMA outraged by the complete mismanagement of the internship programme by the government.

The South African Medical Association (SAMA) is outraged by the complete mismanagement of the internship programme by the government. The continuous failure by the state year after year to allocate medical interns puts the future of these junior doctors in serious jeopardy. 

A total of 288 medical interns who graduated in March and April are awaiting compulsory and constitutionally mandated placement at public health facilities. SAMA says unless all interns are placed by the end of today, 1 July, it will take the government to court on behalf of the junior doctors.

SAMA would like to remind government that internship is a statutory component of medical training instituted by government in order for doctors to complete their medical training and, as such, it is their responsibility to ensure that all doctors who meet the criteria and standards set by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) through their universities, are placed immediately post qualification so as to execute their civil service without unnecessary delay.

“It’s absolutely scandalous that these interns cannot be placed, especially at a time when our country so desperately needs every available hand to deal with the COVID-19 third wave sweeping across South Africa. This raises serious questions about the millions of Rands spent on Cuban doctors, Digital Vibes, and other questionable PPE tenders. It’s outrageous and deplorable, and someone now needs to be held accountable for these massive failures,” says SAMA

SAMA says through not ensuring the placement of the interns, the Department of Health and the Minister of Health are in contravention of their constitutional obligations to ensure eligible applicants are placed as interns.

“The department and the Minister are not fulfilling their duties as prescribed in the legislation and it’s having a major impact on the professional lives of young doctors who have worked extremely hard to get to this point, only to falter because of the ineptitude of officials. This is a serious situation, created through what can only be described as the mismanagement of healthcare provision in our country,” notes Dr Coetzee

 SAMA  says South Africans should be enraged at this situation, particularly as there are many hospitals struggling with a lack of doctors during a time when they are actually most needed.
“Doctors are overworked and fatigued, and many are facing mental and physical burnout. Yet, when there are doctors available to help alleviate the burden they cannot be placed.

Essentially, patients are suffering, and people are dying because there aren’t enough doctors to care for them. And there aren’t enough doctors because money has been spent on other projects instead of on the proper provision of healthcare in our country. That is outrageous,” concludes Dr Coetzee.


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