From information received, it seems as if medical posts in the Port Elizabeth region have either not been filled, unpaid or not renewed and financial constraints are the main reason for this. From reports it appears that the doctors negotiations with the authorities in this regard have not proven to be fruitful.
In provincial and state hospitals, the burden of patient numbers and diseases is always high end and often bordering on burgeoning. If there is a significant loss of medical posts, the system would not allow these patients to be treated in a medically fit manner. This applies especially to surgical disciplines and disciplines that require interventional procedures. If this stage is reached, the responsible thing to do is to redeploy resources and treat patients who are significantly at risk of mortality and morbidity. This amounts to treating emergency cases only. This is the stance that the Port Elizabeth doctor’s have adopted. The CMSA supports this ethically and morally.
From a CMSA perspective we are also very concerned about the training of doctors and specialist in this region. Some of the units in the Port Elizabeth regions are used for specialist training. If elective procedures are not being performed, this will obviously negatively impact on the training of these registrars. The CMSA has been driving a project looking at strengthening off specialist training and academic medicine.
We have shown that in South Africa there is a very significant shortage of specialist and sub specialists. It has also been shown that the number of medical practitioners and specialist is directly related to the level of health standards as determined by indicators such as infant and maternal mortality. We have engaged the Department of Health and other role players in this regard. We have embarked on a path to address these issues. If training of registrars are compromised, it will be a retrogressive step. The CMSA is committed to engage any parties to help improve health standards and training in South Africa.
Professor Anil Madaree
President of Colleges of Medicine
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