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Sama asks govt for assurance on critical healthcare posts

The organisation fears healthcare posts will fall victim to austerity measures, following the Budget speech.

FILE: Healthcare bodies claim some departments are already not filling vital posts. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The South African Medical Association (Sama) wants assurances that critical healthcare posts won't fall victim to austerity measures.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced that state vacancies of managerial and administrative posts will be frozen to save money, but that essential services like teachers and doctors were exempt.

However, Sama and other healthcare bodies claim that some provincial health departments, under pressure from treasury to cut costs, are already not filling vital posts.

WATCH: Budget 2016 in 60 seconds

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says it's not government policy to freeze critical health posts.

"Now if anybody is doing it, it's not because of policy. That's why immediately after this there was an article about it. I challenge the people, I challenge everybody to please bring me the name of a person who you know to be a doctor, for instance, because he doesn't have a job because it's been frozen."

However, in KZN, at least 15 doctors are struggling to find jobs, according to medical sources.

SAMA's Mark Sonderup says while the situation is not critical at the moment, pressure to cut costs could signal trouble in the coming months.

"Somebody needs to tell me how you save money in healthcare when 70 percent of your expenditure is on human resources? How do you save money? You simply don't employ them."

He says national government must ensure that public health professionals won't be affected by cutbacks.

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