Opposition parties in Limpopo said they are deeply concerned by the extremely high vacancy rates in critical medical posts, including specialists, nurses and essential service personnel such as cleaners and porters in the province’s healthcare facilities.
This was allegedly revealed in the Limpopo Health Department’s response to a DA letter with written questions on vacancy rates in healthcare facilities across the province.
According to the response the province has only filled 116 specialist medical posts out of the approved 623 posts, leaving 507 posts vacant and a vacancy rate of 81%. There is a 100% vacancy rate in specialists in radiation and clinical oncology as well as in the cardiology unit. There is also a 94% vacancy rate in radiology specialists, 80% in general surgery specialists and 75% in obstetrics and gynaecology specialists.
“These high vacancy rates are simply unacceptable. It is highly likely that most of these posts are vacant due to budget constraints, the Department’s historical poor financial management and poor working conditions that have caused the loss of skilled medical staff.
“The filling of critical posts within the Limpopo Department of Health should be a priority for the Department which urgently needs to solve the management and budgetary problems such as accruals and excessive overtime that have led to the short-staffing in hospitals and clinics,” said Risham Maharaj spokesperson for DA on health matters/
He said his party believes that staff shortages decrease the quality of patient care and leads to medical negligence cases that end up with high pay-outs from the Department.
” This severe understaffing can also lead to community members having to wait many hours to be seen by tired and overworked healthcare professionals. Failure by Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba and the Limpopo Department of Health to address this critical shortage and understaffing will result in the deterioration and further reduction of care in our healthcare system.”