Solidarity today presented its report on the knowledge, insight and opinion of health professionals in South Africa regarding the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI). This report covers the research done by the Solidarity Research Institute (SRI) as a follow-up investigation in October 2019. The first study was undertaken in July 2018 to gauge healthcare workers’ opinions and knowledge of the NHI, and their capacity to accommodate the NHI.
Nicolien Welthagen, a research psychologist at the SRI, explained, “The 2018 study included only members of Solidarity, but in 2019 questionnaires were sent to healthcare practitioners in the private as well as the public sector across the country.”
The report highlights healthcare practitioners’ huge concerns on the proposed NHI. According to Welthagen, “the findings indicate that there is distrust towards the government regarding the way they want to implement and manage the NHI. Eighty per cent of respondents are negative or sceptical about the NHI. According to the results of this report, the respondents do not believe that the NHI will succeed in improving the healthcare system and service delivery. Only 15% of respondents believe that it would be possible to successfully implement the NHI, and 84,5% are of the view that the implementation of the NHI could destabilise the healthcare system in South Africa and could harm the high-quality service already being provided by the private sector.”
The report further highlights the enormous risk that the emigration of health practitioners poses to the future of healthcare in South Africa. “There are serious concerns about a shortage of healthcare workers, the more so in view of the fact that 20,8% of the respondents indicated that they had already taken steps to emigrate, and a further 41,6% would consider emigrating when the NHI is implemented,” Welthagen said.
Solidarity warns the government to take the feedback received from the industry seriously, since it is precisely these practitioners who will be most severely affected by this step. Welthagen concluded, “Some comments and proposals conveniently are ignored to ensure that the ideology-driven plans can be steamrollered politically. This report shows unequivocally that there is a message from the industry that the NHI cannot work and that healthcare practitioners are not interested in participating in a totally centralised, state-run health system. In an already struggling healthcare system and shaky economy, planning of the NHI is being dealt with in an irresponsible and ill-considered manner. Given the feedback received by the government, it is difficult to see how the government considers the public’s health or the well-being of healthcare practitioners to be a priority.”
According to Morné Malan, senior researcher at the SRI, all formal processes through which the Bill can be fought are being investigated. Solidarity has already instructed its legal team to test the constitutionality of the current format in court should the Bill not be amended as required. “We have been studying and been involved with the NHI for almost three years now. We are well versed in it and we see several constitutional, practical and economic shortcomings that will have a huge negative impact on South Africa as a whole. Therefore, if necessary, we are ready to fight it, even in the Constitutional Court.”
Download the report here: https://gildes.solidariteit.co.za/wp-content/uploads/sites/23/2019/10/2019-10-30_NGV-Verslag-07-Okt-2019-N-Welthagen_ENG-2.pdf