Durban - “Moonlighting” state doctors could have the income they make through private work confiscated as a way of dealing with this illegal practice, the KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC has warned.
Responding to DA MPL Mark Steele’s concern about “moonlighting” doctors working in private practice on the state’s time, MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo told the health portfolio committee recently that the department had investigated how widespread the practice was and how much these staff members were making.
The report has been submitted, with recommendations, to Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, along with suggestions and comments from the health MECs in the Western Cape and Gauteng, where moonlighting is also a problem.
“We pay you what you are supposed to be paid (while working) in King Edward Hospital so, whatever you made during our King Edward time should be brought back to the government,” said Dhlomo, using the huge hospital as an example.
He could not say how the department would confiscate the privately earned income.
He said moonlighting was affecting health care delivery as well as the quality of teaching at medical schools because senior supervising doctors were often absent from lectures.
“If the doctors just disappear from King Edward to (their practices in) uMhlanga, students are not taught and there is no supervision.”
Motsoaledi and the health MECs met the deans of medical schools in December to formulate a national decision on action against cheating doctors. This would be announced shortly.
The head of the KZN Health Department, Sibongile Zungu, said doctors who were making money at the expense of their state employers had a long-term effect on public health.
“One impact is that we have junior professionals who are unsupervised and, in the pipeline of supply of health professionals, you end up with professionals whose skills have not been well developed.
“It costs in litigation. It costs in skills that are not on par.”
Dhlomo said much of the court action against the department was because of mistakes by unsupervised junior public health care staff.