Solidarity today highlighted the inefficient and harmful process by which junior health practitioners are placed for internships. This comes after numerous prospective doctors, who have recently completed their studies, have not been placed by the Department of Health to do their internships.
Paul Maritz, manager of Solidarity Youth and Career Development, explained: “We are here dealing with an old-fashioned and impractical system that simply cannot meet the needs. Before the system is not turned around, these problems will persist from year to year and will even get worse”.
Solidarity makes the point that if the state can no longer cope financially and administratively to place students, then it leaves it the state with no choice but to approach the private sector to assist with the placements and the funding of internships for junior medical practitioners.
“There is absolutely no justification for a centralised placement system that only provides for placement at public hospitals. However, the problems are not just limited to the placements per se; the whole system is currently flawed. Junior doctors get placed late, in areas that are foreign to them and at a stage when all applications for accommodation and other arrangements have already closed. The private sector, however, is ready to take in and train these interns. The private sector just needs approval to do so,” Maritz stated.
Solidarity is of the opinion that the long-term sustainability of the health sector in South Africa is currently threatened by the uncertain future medical students have to face after years of study and costs that have accumulated.
“For at least six years after school medical students forfeit an income, accumulate huge costs in respect of their studies, work extremely hard to pass, yet the department cannot give them the assurance that they would be able to break through the regulatory barriers for registration to ultimately become fully-fledged doctors. In the end, many prospective medical students are put off by this system and they turn to other professions or even to other countries that can offer them more security. Our health system, which is already under huge pressure in terms of demand for services and a shortage of service providers, can in no way afford losing potential doctors,” Maritz concluded.