By Dr Imran Keeka, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson on Health:
THE decision by Treasury to freeze all KZN government vacant posts with immediate effect is set to have far-reaching implications for health care, including an increased death toll at provincial hospitals as scarce medical staff struggle to attend to the sick without the help they need.
According to a circular sent to department heads by provincial Treasury head Simiso Magagula, the drastic austerity measures are the result of higher than budgeted for salary increases for civil servants.
The move comes just three months after the DA exposed that KZN’s DoH currently has 10 000 unfilled vacant posts.
The immediate implications of Treasury’s cost-cutting when it comes to healthcare in our province means;
- No more doctors, nurses, dentists and pharmacists employed at government health institutions
- Longer queues for patients as severely stretched medical staff try to attend to their needs without the necessary support
- Longer response times to emergencies
- Further delays in surgical procedures as medical staff try to deal with an ever-growing backlog
Proper medical care is the right of every citizen of our country. In the face of budget pressures, critical medical posts should be the last casualty.
The DA believes that much of the current situation could have been avoided through sound financial management by the MEC and his department.
We have made numerous recommendations to the MEC on how to do this. He has not responded to any.
This approach shows a lack of political will and compassion to implement real change.
The Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) Annual Report for 2014/15 confirms that a massive 87% of KZN’s people are entirely dependent on the public health system.
These are the people that MEC Dhlomo and his department will have to answer to in the coming months.