Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: SUNDAY WORLD
Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: SUNDAY WORLD

Health minister Aaron Motsoaledi has worked with his provincial counterparts to mobilise additional resources for hiring staff, more than doubling the number of healthcare posts announced in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s economic stimulus package in September.

A total of 5,300 personnel are to be hired by provincial health departments in the recruitment drive, ranging from medical specialists to artisans, Motsoaledi said, following a meeting of the national health council.

Ramaphosa previously announced that 2,200 posts would be filled, and the Treasury allocated R350m for this project for the current fiscal year, during the medium-term budget policy statement.

More resources have been sourced by provinces in order to boost these numbers, including nonclinical personnel, said Motsoaledi.

“The biggest problems in the health sector were identified to be shortage of staff and lack of maintenance of equipment and infrastructure. Therefore artisans, architects and engineers are an essential component of the health workforce,”  Motsoaledi said in a written response to questions on Monday.

He declined to specify how much additional money had been sourced by the provinces for this initiative, or put a number to the personnel gap that remained.

“The filling of these posts will be a relief for the overburdened health system. Needless to say if resources were allocated, we could do more,” he said.

The positions would be available from January 2019, he said.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union welcomed news of the additional posts, saying understaffing was an important contributor to the crisis in public healthcare.

“Our members and workers are subjected to perform duties that are meant for five other people. A nurse is forced to be a porter, administrator and caregiver at the same time. The end result of this is an overworked staff and the minimisation of the quality of service delivery,” it said in a statement.

Correction: December 10 2018

An earlier version of this story incorrectly had the Treasury allocation in paragraph three at R350,000 instead of R350m.