Dept to present concrete proposals for doctors' salaries

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pretoria - The Department of Health is expected to present concrete proposals for doctors' salaries to the Bargaining Council on Friday.

Last week, medical doctors in some Gauteng hospitals went on strike action, demanding to be paid the remuneration that was committed according to the Occupational Specific Dispensation (OSD) for this sector.

Department spokesperson, Fidel Hadebe, said government was currently engaged in a process to dramatically improve the working conditions of all health care professionals working in the public service, particularly on remuneration, career-pathing and other issues.

"Government has already implemented vastly improved dispensation for nurses, however, during the process we encountered many problems such as some nurses being over paid, resulting in them having to pay back the extra money," Mr Hadebe said.

In order to avoid these kinds of problems, the department has spent a lot of time to ensure accurate and correct decisions as it addresses the concerns of the doctors and other categories of health care professionals.

"We understand the frustration caused by the delays in the implementation of this dispensation and for that reason we have been working non-stop to ensure that we have an amicable resolution," he said.

Mr Hadebe said the department was concerned about doctors who have felt it necessary to go out on strike as their services are part of the essential services of this country.

He appealed to the doctors participating in unprotected strikes to consider the impact it had on patients.

"Your services are part of the essential services of this country and the strike can potentially be detrimental to the public and patients rely on the public health services," he said.

He warned that there has been one or two incidents where drastic action has been taken against striking doctors, adding that steps are in place to seek a satisfactory alternative to redress the situation.

He further warned that any instance where a patient has been adversely affected by the actions of professional health care workers who took part in an unprotected strike will be thoroughly investigated by the Professional Health Care Association.

"We would therefore like to appeal to them to get back to work because we are now in a position to reach an amicable resolution to this matter.

"All of us subscribe to the dictum that the health of all people visiting our health facilities is paramount, that is why we would like to see the situation at our facilities get back to normal," Mr Hadebe said.

The department reiterated its commitment to giving the fullest possible recognition, support and remuneration to the health professionals working in the South African public health service.

The department said they had acknowledged the challenges facing all health professionals, including medical doctors, relating in particular to remuneration and their general working conditions.