Not all medical interns posted over ‘funding problems’


Not all medical interns who have completed the Department of Health’s Internship and Community Service (ICS) program are placed for their mandatory year of community service.

The reason given is a shortage of funded posts in certain provinces.

The Department of Health admitted this week that some environmental health practitioners, radiographers and physiotherapists could not be placed for their compulsory service year due to problems with funding for these medical staff.

“However, the department is working with provincial health departments to ensure that funding is unlocked so that all qualified medical personnel are placed for their community service year,” says Foster Mohale, spokesperson for the department.

Mohale says that particular attention is given to the environmental health practitioners who are not posted, as they play an important role by ensuring that various interest groups comply with the necessary food safety laws and regulations.

According to the department, it has since succeeded in placing 2,101 qualified community service personnel and 2,210 medical interns at facilities across the country.

“However, a total of 220 doctors who applied for their community service year were not eligible to be placed now because they started their internship late at the time,” says Mohale.

“As a result, positions will not be allocated to these doctors until later in the year.”

The department claims that another 53 qualified doctors also did not start working at their allotted medical facilities this week, because they rejected the postings for some reason.

“The reasons for this include the geographical location of the posting and all these doctors have already appealed,” says Mohale.

“The department pays attention to all the appeals, and the impact that service delivery has in an area due to the vacant positions will be taken into account during the review process. The outcome of the appeal applications will be communicated to each doctor in due course.”

Last year, several young doctors were at a loss about the placements for the community service year, which was once again late. By December, many of the doctors had not been placed at all, or in completely different places and even in provinces for which they had not applied. The problem with postings apparently repeats itself every year.

A total of 27 doctors were initially placed in the Northern Cape, but then at short notice were placed at their alternative choices.

The department says it is in contact with these doctors and everyone else to keep them informed of the state of affairs.

“The department has also recently become aware of a number of doctors who have been unemployed since they completed their community service year,” says Mohale.

“The department is engaged in discussions with organizations that represent doctors and various provinces to pay attention to this problem of unemployment.”