Minister assures doctors that issues will be addressed

Friday, May 29, 2009

Pretoria - Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi assured doctors on Friday that government was working around the clock to address the challenges they faced.

"The issue I am resolving now is how and when, almost everyday I'm attending meetings regarding the issue, which is now being addressed at the highest government level," Dr Motsolaledi told striking doctors on Friday.

The minister said this after being handed a memorandum by members of the South African Medical Association (SAMA) who had marched to the department's offices in Pretoria.

Thousands of SAMA-affiliated doctors also held protest marches in East London and Durban.

In the memorandum, doctors demanded an immediate implementation of the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD), a 50 percent salary increment and improved working conditions in the public health sector.

"Doctors are the backbone of the health system but we have lost specialists to overseas, we want the department to implement new resource strategy and respond to our grievances within 14 working days," the memorandum reads.

The march was supported by the South African Medical Association (SAMA), Democratic Nurses Organisation of South Africa, members of the Congress of South African Trade Union as well as the African National Congress's Youth League.

Minister Motsoaledi promised the striking doctors that the matter would be resolved soon.

"It has been put on the pipeline for too long and we are taking care of it. I understand the pain you are going through as I was once a doctor at a public hospital, the matter is receiving attention and will be resolved soon."

He said he had met with Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan and the Department of Public Service and Administration to find ways on how to address the issue of doctors' remuneration.

SAMA's Chairperson, Professor Mkhululi Lukhele said he hoped the department was taking their concerns seriously.