Unemployed doctors: KZN health commits to fill vacant posts by end April 

people wearing scrubs sitting outside at night
Junior doctors staged an eight-day sit-in at Natalia House.

The countdown has started for the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) health department to fill vacancies of 120 medical posts by the end of April. This follows an eight day sit-in by a group of about 100 unemployed doctors in front of Natalia house, the department’s headquarters in Pietermaritzburg. The junior doctors, who completed their community service in December 2023, said they would not leave Natalia house until they had had letters of employment. 

On Tuesday this week after a lengthy meeting with health MEC Nomagugu Simelane and head of department Dr Sandile Tshabalala, the department immediately advertised 120 medical posts. The doctors are encouraged to apply. 

“The recruitment process will be followed and wrapped up in 14 days in line with the Department of Service and Administration prescripts. This will be followed by shortlisting and interviews. The successful candidates will be given letters of appointment with a view that they start on the first of May,” Tshabalala says.

Sit-in called off 

Speaking on behalf of the unemployed junior doctors Dr Refiloe Mokoena says the sit-in has been suspended. She recounts their experience. 

“We were camping outside Natalia since last Tuesday. Initially we were not received well, the police were called on us.”  

The police kept watch on the nights the doctors spent outside. The sit-in garnered support as senior doctors came forward and offered them places to sleep at night and shower. A local family even donated gazebos.  

Mokoena says people were very generous to donate food for them.

“Many different organisations and individuals including former Health Minister Zweli Mkhize also made donations in support of our cause and that lightened our load,” she says. 

Among the organisations that showed their support is the political newcomer, RISE Mzansi. In a statement the party said “this is yet another broken promise by an uncaring government that has failed to plan despite a seven year lead time”.

Call for better planning 

Another representative of the unemployed junior doctors, Dr Thanduxolo Cele confirms they had a fruitful meeting with Tshabalala after several engagements with him. 

“Today we can sleep peacefully knowing that 120 doctors will be employed. We have made a submission to the department that continuous efforts to secure funds should not be seized now that these posts have been secured,” he says. 

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Early this year, Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla attributed the high number of unemployed junior doctors to the increasing pressure on healthcare budgets which, he says, is partly due to the large government salary bill. In February Phaahla said the department would soon outline plans with timelines for recruiting and appointing health workers, including the recently graduated professionals and unemployed medical doctors. – Health-e News


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