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Sama welcomes move to reduce intern working hours

The Western Cape Health MEC announced a change in the shift guidelines of interns in the province.

FILE: Doctor generic. Picture: Free Images.

CAPE TOWN - The South African Medical Association (Sama) says it cautiously welcomes a move to reduce the working hours of interns.

Western Cape Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo yesterday announced a change in the shift guidelines of interns in the province.

As from January next year, a continuous shift will not be allowed to exceed 24 hours.

Currently most healthcare workers work up to 30 hours in one stretch.

Sama says while it welcomes the move, it's also sceptical whether it will be applied properly.

The association's Mark Sonderup explains: "I think one needs to be fair and say that it's a step in the right direction."

He says the decision raises other concerns: "If a warm body is not going to be there for six hours less than they were previously, who is going to fill that space?"

Sonderup goes on to say that it does not address the underlying issue of creating job opportunities for medical interns.

In June, the South African Health Professions Council also announced plans to cut interns' working hours.

This comes after a young doctor crashed on her way home from Paarl Hospital on the N1 on 3 June.

The incident was blamed on exhaustion.

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