Private practitioners will be paid by the state to work a certain number of hours per week at state clinics.
This was one of the measures announced by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to improve state health services, which included sending more students for training to Cuba, building new hospitals, refurbishing nursing colleges and appointing a health ombudsman.
He said the National Health Insurance (NHI) aimed to get general practitioners (GPs) out of hospitals and into clinics. He said several GPs told him they were willing to help out at state clinics for between eight and 24 hours a week.
He said they would be paid by the Treasury and reckoned doctors need not fear that they would lose money through the national health plan. He said despite the fact that they rendered primary health care, doctors in 2010 saw only R6,2 billion of the R84,7 billion that medical aid funds collected in premiums during that year.
Students sent overseas to train
He said that while there were a few GPs who wanted to emigrate, the reality was that the NHI would not make them poorer. He added from September this year 1 000 matriculants would be sent to Cuba to train as medical doctors, up from the current 60 students per year.
The minister told a conference in Johannesburg the state would spend R1,4 billion on the refurbishment of 102 nursing colleges across the country. “We believe the decision to close nursing colleges was a wrong decision,” he said.
Motsoaledi said that while the public sector had to improve its efficiencies, the private sector needed to control its costs. “Health is a public good. It cannot be left to the dictates of the market.”
Motsoaledi said his department would try to improve hygiene, infection control, long queues in hospitals, drug shortages and the safety of staff.
A health ombudsman would be appointed to create a platform for the public to lodge complaints.
There were also plans to introduce a school health system that would deal with immunisation, the abuse of drugs and alcohol and teenage pregnancies. The plan would be to check each pupil from top to toe for good health and immunisations and reduce pregnancies with condoms.
(The Witness, July 2012)
NHI: Quality non-negotiable