by Anna Majavu
The community-run rural hospitals are known as “provincially aided hospitals”.
They get a 90percent subsidy from the government, but were built by their communities and are controlled by a board of directors elected by their communities.
There are two doctors at each hospital who are paid to work 40 hours a week each – but in practice are on call 24 hours a day and work when they are called at night.
But now the Eastern Cape health department has decided to slash these doctors’ sessions to 20 hours a week, leaving them without enough pay to survive on, Adelaide Provincial Aided Hospital’s Dr Susan Christiane told Parliament’s health portfolio committee yesterday.
“The proposed plan is an insult,” Christiane said, adding that rural doctors would have no choice but to head for cities to find work.
The government will then have to contract doctors from the nearest large towns for 20 hours a week each.
Christiane said it would cost more money to get outside doctors who will only work 20 hours a week – and who will charge the government for transport and accommodation.
“The poor people will suffer. They need committed, compassionate, resident doctors,” she said.
Though the provincially aided hospitals are small and lack equipment, many of them perform critical operations like Caesarian sections and appendectomies, and deal with accident and assault victims throughout the night. This will not be possible if their resident doctors leave, the committee heard.
~Read more on the Sowetanlive.co.za#www.sowetanlive.co.za/news/2011/02/09/18-hospitals-set-to-collapse~