The SA Medical Association has threatened legal action against government over placement of interns. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)
The SA Medical Association has threatened legal action against government over placement of interns. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Place intern doctors, or face legal action, Sama warns health department

By Mashudu Sadike Time of article published Jul 5, 2021

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Pretoria - The SA Medical Association (Sama) has threatened legal action against the health department if it has not placed about 288 junior intern doctors by Thursday.

Speaking to the Pretoria News yesterday, vice-chairperson Dr Mvuyisi Mzukwa said the state had a legal obligation to place the doctors.

“We are raising these concerns because the state is failing to fulfil its legal obligation to place these qualified doctors.

“The Health Professions Act of 1974 dictates that after doctors obtain their qualifications they must be placed in a medical institution to start their internship,” Mzukwa said.

Sama has already summoned its legal team to be on standby for the court action, he said.

“We have written a letter to the department to let it know of our intention to go to court if it doesn’t place all these interns by July 9.”

The association said about 288 medical interns have been sitting at home after graduating in March and April, awaiting the mandatory placements at public health facilities.

Sama added that it was outraged by the mismanagement of the internship programme by the government.

“We are are horrified 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.

“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 rand 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.

“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.”

Department spokesperson Victor Khanyile said interns were selected through an algorithm system to ensure fairness.

This means the first batch would be 135 for funded posts: “The allocations have already happened. It is the applicants who were certified eligible by their institutions of higher learning between the period February and March. Those have already been allocated through an algorithm system to ensure good governance, fairness and justification,” Khanyile said.

The remaining batch would be allocated internships in the coming weeks, he said.

Pretoria News

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