Govt proposes huge salary increment for doctors

Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Gabi Khumalo

Pretoria - Government has proposed a new salary offer, which could see some doctors receiving a salary increment of up to 60 percent.

Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, made the announcement, which is the new offer being put to the Bargaining Council, at an "extraordinary" media briefing on Wednesday.

Government would like to implement the new packages, expected to cost around R1 billion, as of July 1, if the offer is accepted by the South African Medical Association (Sama), which represents most public sector doctors.

Minister Motsoaledi said the proposed offer will see unequal salary structures collapsed and as part of the new offer, interns will receive increases of between 31 percent and 53 percent.

The salary package for Medical Officers (Community Service) who are contracted for a year, will move from a range between R330 226 - R357 524 to a total salary package of R392 599, which represents a differentiated increment ranging from 9.8 to 18.9 percent to address the inequalities.

Salaries for Principal and Chief Specialists (Professors) have also been increased to 29 percent.

The package for Principal specialist has been moved from R769 271 to R962 174, which represents 25.1 percent increase, whilst the package for Chief Specialists moved from R932 399 to R1.2 million, which represents 29 percent increase.

The minister noted that the Principal and Chief Specialists have been very difficult to retain in the system due to their high level skill due high demand locally and abroad.

The department has further restructured the registrar salaries, doctors who are studying for specialist degrees, from 18.3 to 60.1 percent.

"One of the most problematic areas of the present salary structure is that those who decided to study further took a major drop in salary as they are regarded as students.

"In order to address this disincentive to study, we are increasing to arrive at a salary package of R528 770, from a low of R330 226 to a high R446 853," Dr Motsoaledi said, noting that the department needed the skills brought by registrars.

The minister explained that the salary package in the public sector includes Basic Salary, 13th Cheque, Medical Aid, Pension, Scarce Allowance, Commuted Overtime and in some instances Rural Allowance.

"Each employee has the prerogative to structure their package according to their needs, this whole package has been lost in the public debate," he said.

He emphasised that doctors do not do overtime as it is part and parcel of the medical profession.

"The issue of overtime is part of their package, the amount is there whether in rural or you see one patient per day, it's there," he said.

He further disputed the assumption that doctors would be back-paid from last July and explained that they were proposing a once-off payment as a compensation due to the delays.

Minister Motsolaedi urged doctors to return to their work stations while negotiations continued.

"While we acknowledge the delay in presenting this proposal for reasons beyond our control, and no dispute has been declared, we expect every individual to return to their work station while negotiations continue," he said.

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