The National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill and how it has been railroaded through Parliament is an embarrassment as it is not implementable, unaffordable, and unconstitutional.
This is feedback from the South African Healthcare Professionals Collaboration (SAHPC), whose spokesperson told 702 that they are deeply concerned about the passage of the bill.
The SAHPC represents over 25,000 healthcare professionals across South Africa and has been formed to ensure that the NHI Bill is not implemented in its current form.
On Wednesday, the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) passed the NHI Bill unaltered at a sitting in Cape Town, with backing from eight of the nine provinces.
The NHI seeks to ensure all South Africans have access to quality healthcare services and provides for the establishment of a fund for this purpose.
Dr Caroline Corbett explained that healthcare professionals have the most skin in the game and will be the people expected to implement such a Bill.
Healthcare professionals have a responsibility to ensure that the sector itself is sustainable and is able to provide access to quality healthcare.
“The NHI Bill, as it stands, is not the solution to that,” Corbett said. “It is not implementable. It is not affordable. There are multiple problems with this.”
The SAHPC’s biggest concern is that the NHI does not include any reform of the public healthcare system, which fails to provide adequate healthcare to South Africans.
“There are huge concerns around corruption. Huge concerns around maladministration and misappropriation of funds. The current healthcare budget is effectively wasted,” she said.
Another concern is the Bill’s unconstitutional proposals and the undemocratic way it was forced through Parliament.
“There are constitutional infringements that are extremely concerning and have not been addressed. The process of railroading this bill through Parliament and the National Council of Provinces is an embarrassment,” Corbett said.
Corbett’s comments follow those from fellow SAHPC spokesperson Simon Strachan, who said that the NHI Bill threatens to destroy the entire healthcare system.
“We have got together because we feel like we have just not been heard, even though we have individually participated in every opportunity given to us. We are hoping in this last collaboration that we can be heard,” Strachan said.
“We are very worried that it will result in much poorer quality of care and much worse access to healthcare, and we are really concerned that it could end up being the destruction of the healthcare system.”
“This is not going to work in its current form. It has only got this far because healthcare professionals have not been heard, despite our best efforts,” Strachan said.
He urged the government and the private sector to find a solution where both parties can contribute to providing high-quality healthcare to all South Africans.
This cannot be done through the NHI. It has to be done by bolstering the existing healthcare infrastructure and building out the public sector’s capacity to provide better healthcare to existing patients.