Junior doctors in South Africa are paid as much as bus drivers, the opposition Democratic Alliance said today.
Reports today say Mike Waters, the party’s health spokesperson, said that a junior doctor in the public sector earns the same amount as one of the Gauteng bus drivers who have just ended their strike for higher wages.
Waters said this is indicative of the apathy with which the government has treated doctors’ concerns and the degree to which it has taken advantage of their commitment.
“A junior doctor, after five years of studying and two years of in-service training, is paid R7 000 per month,” he is quoted saying. “This is the same as the basic salary of truck drivers, who are required only to have a heavy-duty driver’s licence.”
“For the amount they are paid, doctors will be expected to work long shifts, make life-and-death decisions every day, and often work in appalling conditions, with outdated equipment and with inadequate support. This is a gross injustice which has been ignored for too long.”
Waters said that because of all this, doctors are de-motivated. “This disrespect for doctors is shown in many other ways,” he said. “Community service, for example, continues to be mismanaged, with some student doctors not receiving placements at all, and some only finding out at the last minute where they are going.
Waters said this situation is resulting in “10% of student doctors leaving the country even before they do their community service and are able to register.”
On Friday patients could be left unattended as doctors are expected to march in Pretoria to show their dissatisfaction over various issues in the health sector.
SA Medical Association (Sama) spokesperson Phophi Ramasteba said doctors are angry and have legitimate grievances. “The issues raised affect every single doctor. This is not about the differences or personalities”.
Ramatseba said all doctors had been notified – even those that had moved to a new body still waiting to be legally recognised, the United Doctor’s Forum.
Reports say Sama has demanded at least a 50% salary increase.