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A position statement by the School of Medicine, UFS, regarding the crisis in health care in the Free State
2009-05-27

The executive management of the School of Medicine (SOM) at the University of the Free State (UFS) and its senior members wish to express their grave concern at the way the financial crisis in the Free State has negatively impacted on the provision of health care to the population. The unavailability of goods and services at every level of care has become so severely compromised that the staff of the SOM can no longer remain silent on this issue. By remaining silent it may be construed that we are either indifferent to, or even accepting the situation. Neither is true. The SOM can in no way condone, sanction or accept the current situation of health care in the Free State.

Other concerns expressed by the SOM include:

  • Medical services have been severely compromised due to the disintegrating primary health care system in the FS. This has resulted in patients who were in need of more advanced levels of medical care not being referred appropriately or timeously to level two hospitals and from there for tertiary care. Inpatient as well as outpatient numbers are steadily declining and the tendency now is to fill fewer beds with critically ill or terminally ill patients. It is also becoming increasingly difficult to find suitable patients for training and examination purposes.
     
  • It becomes more difficult to attract and retain experienced and suitably qualified medical specialists interested in an academic career, due to the inability to provide prospective career opportunities. This is particularly the case in the surgical disciplines.
     
  • It is also becoming more difficult to attract and appoint highly qualified registrars (future specialists) since the reputation of this SOM has been compromised by the negative publicity created by the financial difficulties of the FSDoH. Registrars form the backbone of the clinical work force in all teaching hospitals. If vacant posts cannot be filled in time service provision, as well as undergraduate teaching are severely jeopardised.
     
  • As a direct consequence of the rationing of health care, fewer surgical procedures are being performed. The point may soon be reached where registrars in the surgical disciplines may not get sufficient hands-on experience to allow them to qualify within the required time frame.
     
  • Non-payment of accounts to service providers and suppliers including the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS), maintenance contracts and industry will severely compromises health care and future loyalty, goodwill and provision of critical services.
     
  • The dwindling number of qualified and experienced nurses in the public (and private) health care sector is an ongoing unresolved issue. Despite the fact that primary health care is mainly nurse-driven, nursing colleges were closed during the previous decade. These colleges must now be re-commissioned at high cost adding to the financial burden.
     
  • The morale of health care workers at all levels of health care has reached an all-time low
     
  • It is becoming increasingly difficult to conduct meaningful research in all disciplines due to staff shortages and lack of funding.

See attachment for the full statement on by the School of Medicine, regarding the crisis in health care in the Free State.

Media Release
Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt.stg@ufs.ac.za
26 May 2009
 

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