Doctors face disciplinary action for speaking

Estelle Ellis

THE Eastern Cape Health Department has started disciplinary action against the three rebel Port Elizabeth specialist doctors who held an “unauthorised” media conference earlier this week to highlight massive staff shortages.

Cardiologist Basil Brown, surgeon Sats Pillay and paediatric surgeon Lungile Pepeta received letters yesterday asking them for reasons why they should not be charged with misconduct.

A total of 28 doctors have resigned from the city’s hospitals since January and none have been replaced.

Department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said though the doctors had spoken on behalf of the 20 heads of the different departments at the complex, the department had decided to take steps only against those who “physically spoke to the media”.

“The steps taken against them will be decided on by the head of the disciplinary inquiry,” he said.

Doctors at the complex say they can no longer deliver a service of the standard that the Health Professions Council expects from them and that they are forced, due to budget constraints, to severely curb the services they offer.

In some units, two doctors see the same number of patients that would normally be handled by a team of seven medical specialists at other state hospitals.

Kupelo said the department was attending to the staffing problems and two officials had been moved from the provincial Treasury to the department to streamline the appointment of new doctors.

“There is no moratorium on the appointment of staff … but there are budget constraints,” Kupelo said.

Meanwhile, Hospersa, the Health and Other Services Personnel Union of South Africa, said yesterday that earlier this year, according to figures from the government’s human resources system, Persal, and the national Treasury’s database, there were 27267 vacant posts in the Eastern Cape health service.

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