The provincial Health Department is still battling with retaining bursary doctors, who renege on their contract agreements at the start of each year.
Of the 102 post-community service doctors expected to begin work in the province this year, 31 are still being followed up on.
The bursary contract stipulates that after the doctors have served their community service period at any facility in the country, they must come back to the Eastern Cape for their post-community service for the same duration as the department paid for their studies.
At the start of this year, the province had allocated 132 post-community service doctors to facilities that needed extra doctors. Thirty of these doctors were nonbursary holders.
Of the non-bursary holders, eight assumed duty, one declined, four will start at a later date and 17 are still being followed up on.
Of the bursary doctors, 33 have reported for duty, five have declined, 33 will start at a later date and 31 are being followed up on.
The doctors should have assumed their duties within the first week of the new year.
Health spokesman Siyanda Manana said they were following up on the doctors by means of phone calls, SMSes and e-mails.
“The problem is that they don’t want to work in rural areas and for us that’s where the need is,” he said.
He said the department’s finance department was currently handling the issue of defaulters who had to repay the money they received for their studies.
Manana said this included the doctors who had declined.
– Vuvu Vena