SEVERAL JUNIOR doctors waiting to start their compulsory community service have still not been placed.
Some have been waiting for three months for the Department of Health to give them an answer.
The Junior Doctors Association of SA (Judasa) said there were 48 unplaced medical students and 46 unplaced foreign interns.
Among those waiting is Dr Sherwin Prim from Wits University, who completed his internship earlier this year.
“Despite completing my medical internship on April 30, I have yet to be placed for community service and remain unemployed.”
“The applications opened late and it was a rush due to the minister of health’s commitment to July 1. However, we are still waiting.”
Community service is mandatory for all medical doctors who have completed their two-year internships. The Department of Health established the Internship Community Service Placement Programme where interns can apply on the department’s website to be placed in various state health facilities .
“I’m tired of receiving the standard response, ‘please be patient, as NDoH is currently finalising issues regarding the application process’. I’m tired of hearing that applications will be opening ‘soon’, ‘shortly’, ‘this week’ or next week,” Prim said.
Zahrah Safedien, who completed her studies at the Stellenbosch medical school, has also been waiting for the past three months.
“At the moment I cannot do any other medical practice because it’s illegal. It’s very discouraging; I feel robbed of what I worked hard for,” she said.
Judasa has been engaging with the department to address the delay. Judasa chairperson Dr Zahid Badroodien said the core issue could be related to inadequate number of funded posts for interns and community service doctors.
“The problem has been present for the past few years. It is related to inadequate number of funded posts being made available for interns and community service doctors as well as the poor rollout of the system on a national level and poor buy in from provinces who need to make the posts available.
“It is a multifaceted crisis which lacks adequate government intervention,” Badroodien said.
He said the association would continue to apply pressure on the department.
The national Health Department said there was no delay.
“Applications are available online for placement for July,” Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s spokesperson Joe Maila said.
He said there were places available.
“The department wishes to assure the public and health professionals that they are extremely important to the department and valued and we take this seriously on our part,” Maila said.