Thousands of vacant posts in Limpopo Healthcare facilities compromise healthcare

Thousands of vacant posts in Limpopo Healthcare facilities compromise healthcare

The DA in Limpopo has written to Limpopo Health MEC, Phophi Ramathuba, to address concerns over the extremely high vacancy rates in critical medical personnel posts.

According to the department’s annual report each programme has a high vacancy rate of posts on the approved establishment. The province has a vacancy rate of 52.1% in health administration posts, 73.7% vacancy rate in health sciences training, 54.6% vacancy rate in provincial hospital services, 53.3% in district health services, 55.5% in central hospital service and 43.7% in emergency medical service.

The vacancy rates in critical occupations as on 31 March 2022 are as follows:

*Specialists – 76.83% (130 posts filled out of 561 posts)

*Medical Officers – 54.57% (1307 posts filled out of 2877 posts)

*Professional Nurses – 40.71% (8754 posts filled out of 14765 posts)

*Pharmacists – 16 .82% (529 posts filled out of 636 posts)

*Allied Health Professionals – 58.03% (1372 posts filled out of 3269 posts)

*Paramedics – 79.51% (25 posts filled out of 122)

These high vacancy rates in the approved organisational structure are simply unacceptable. Most of these posts are vacant due to budget constraints, historical poor financial management and poor working conditions that have caused the loss of skilled medical staff. This has a detrimental effect on the rendering of health services in the province.

The filling of critical posts within the department should be a priority but is hampered by the need to reduce personnel spending in the province. The failure to fill critical posts leads to overworking the available staff and it is no surprise that the department has R15 billion in contingent liability due to litigation. In most of the litigation against the department health professionals were found to have provided substandard care.

The DA believes that staff shortages in critical occupations decrease the quality of patient care and the appointment of critical staff must take precedent over the appointment of ineffective senior management and officials in the provincial health department.

Failure by Ramathuba and the Limpopo Department of Health to address the critical occupation vacancy rate and understaffing will result in the further reduction of care in Limpopo’s healthcare system.

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