2 July 2018

South Africa: Nehawu Not Shocked By Revelation of 37 000 Vacant Posts in the Public Healthcare Sector

press release

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union [NEHAWU] has been consistently calling for the filling of all vacant funded posts in the public service. The national union has on countless occasions highlighted the fact that understaffing plays a huge role in impeding service delivery. The public healthcare is the most affected sector with most clinics and hospitals barely functioning.

In an article published in todays' edition of the Sowetan it is revealed that the public healthcare sector has 37 000 vacant funded posts. As NEHAWU, we however believe that this number might be very low as our members are at the coalface of service delivery in hospitals and clinics and constantly they complain of being overworked. Our members and workers are subjected to perform duties that are meant for five other people. A nurse is forced to be a porter, administrator and caregiver at the same time. The end result of this is an overworked staff and the minimisation of the quality of service delivery.

The national union believes that understaffing is one of the major causes of the crisis in the public healthcare sector after outsourcing, procurement, servicing of medical equipment and human resources. It is critical for government to fill these posts as a matter of urgency if it is serious about averting a total collapse of the public healthcare system. NEHAWU will continue to call for the lifting of the moratorium on the filling of vacant funded posts especially in provinces like Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

As things stand, the public healthcare is very understaffed yet there is a huge number of funded vacant posts not filled, in this regard the national union call for the immediate filling of these vacancies as soon as possible as this has a huge bearing on service delivery. With the imminent implementation of the NHI the country will need a skilled workforce and specialised skills to ensure that the needs of the public are adequately addressed. Working hand in hand the Department of Education and the Department of Health must ensure that training of healthcare practitioners on a large scale is prioritised. With an unemployment rate of 26.7% in the first quarter of 2018 this necessitates that a radical campaign of recruiting young people into the healthcare sector should be undertaken immediately.

The slow pace in the absorption of Community Healthcare Workers also plays a huge role in frustrating service delivery to the working class and the poor who relies heavily on the public healthcare sector for medical attention. We therefore call on government to accelerate the absorption of the more than 41 000 Community Healthcare Workers into the public service. The national union will monitor the progress and ensure it is concluded as soon as possible.

As NEHAWU, we will intensify our demand for the filling of all vacant posts in the public service especially in the public healthcare sector. All our upcoming Provincial Day of Action in Limpopo, Eastern Cape, Free State, Northern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape will raise sharply the issue of understaffing as an impediment to the distribution of service delivery.

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