Gauteng health department fails to pay medical interns

Bureaucratic bungle leaves new doctors fearing the worst about working in public hospitals.

Newly graduated doctors who just started their internships at Gauteng government hospitals have not been paid their January salaries as a result of a technical glitch, according to the health department.

Medical interns at hospitals in Gauteng could only expect to be paid in February, the Gauteng Department of Health announced this week.

In a statement released on Thursday, January 31, the Head of the Department Mkhululi Lukhele said, “There was a delay in the creation of the post due to the additional interns and community service that Gauteng Department of Health requested to accommodate.

“Despite the shortcomings as stated above, the Head of Department has arranged for additional supplementary payment runs to accommodate appointments that would be delayed.”

Medical interns took to social media this past week to share their grievances and to plead for assistance.

Wits graduate Rhadika Patel, who began her medical internship this year at Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital, said that the lack of communication surrounding the issue was frustrating.

“HR hasn’t told us anything. We had no idea until earlier this week that we were not going to get paid. They say the issue is that we haven’t been logged onto the system, but it has been a month now,” she said.

Patel and other interns have contacted the South African Medical Association (SAMA) and say that they have received feedback.

In a communique shared with the nearly 50 interns at Charlotte Maxeke, SAMA expressed concern and informed the interns that after speaking to the Director-General of Health they would be paid by Friday, February 1.

“SAMA further made contact with Provincial Heads of Department to ascertain as to whether payment will indeed be effected and received an affirmation in that regard that payment will be made timeously,” the statement read.

Patel told Wits Vuvuzela that it has been difficult for these interns to begin their lives after varsity because of this delay.

“Especially for those who have had to move towns. Making the jump from student to intern is very difficult, there are so many new expenses. As well, January is a very tough month because you just come out of the festive period. So it is really frustrating because a lot of people have to pay for rent and transport expenses,” Patel added.

FEATURED IMAGE: Medical graduates have had a financially challenging start to their internships. Photo: Tshego Mokgabudi

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