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New documentary explores plight of junior SA doctors and their 30-hour shifts

'Doc-U-Mentally – last doctors standing' will debut at the Jo’burg Film Festival this month.

A screengrab of a doctor featured in the film.

JOHANNESBURG - A chartered accountant with a passion for filmmaking is set to release his debut film exploring the effects of 30-hour working shifts on junior doctors in South Africa.

Francois Whal's documentary called Doc-U-Mentally - last doctors standing will be debut at the Jo'burg Film Festival on 17 September.

Following five doctors during five different shifts, Wahl says the main focus of the project is to reveal the pressures that more than 5,000 doctors are made to work under and the impact this has on their performance, at times resulting in high levels of anxiety or stress.

Whal, who comes from a family of doctors says, "I just had to make this film because my wife, brother and my father are doctors so I know first-hand the effects that the working hours have on individuals and their relationships. Our friends always ask the same questions regarding the profession and we felt like it is repetitive answering the same questions."

In July, concern was sparked after a car accident claimed the life of a junior doctor, Ilne Markwart, who was making her way home after completing a 30-hour shift from a hospital in Paarl.

He adds, "The main focus was to show the race against time for these doctors and how working 30-hour shifts impact their mood, performance, stress and anxiety levels and personal safety."

The movie, which is set mainly at Ngwelezane Hospital in Empangeni (KwaZulu-Natal), is not for the faint-hearted and shows real-life scenes of stab-wounds, gashes that must be sown up, near drownings, and everything in between that junior doctors need to deal with during a regular shift.

It features Dr Saishrien Rasen in the surgery unit, Dr Yenziwe Ngema in orthopaedics, Dr Wanele Ganya in paediatrics, Dr Amy Salvesen in emergency medicines and Dr Lourens Wahl in casualty.

WATCH: The Doc-U-Mentally trailer

DOC-U-MENTALLY TRAILER from Francois Wahl on Vimeo.