South Africa

Doctors will close practices if NHI is implemented

South African doctors and specialists have announced that they would rather close their practices than work under the government’s National Health Insurance (NHI).

This was revealed by Solidarity’s medical professional networks, which the union said skyrocketed because of concerns surrounding the NHI.

The NHI bill was recently approved by the National Council of Provinces (NRP), and it now only requires President Cyril Ramaphosa’s signature to become law.

Peirru Marx, network coordinator of Solidarity’s medical networks, said medical doctors who are members of the Solidarity Doctors’ Network vehemently oppose the NHI bill.

“Our research shows that medical professionals do not support the NHI. They do not want to be part of it,” Marx said.

“They know it is an election gimmick, and in reality, conditions will be much worse for South Africans under the NHI.”

He said healthcare practitioners witnessed how corruption, deterioration and mismanagement hamper the public healthcare system.

A study conducted among doctors by the Solidarity Research Institute (SNI) found that they would leave the country in large numbers if the NHI was implemented.

  • 94% of respondents believe private health practitioners may decide to work abroad because of NHI.
  • 47% indicated that they would start the emigration process as soon as the NHI is accepted in South Africa.
  • 19% said that they had already initiated the process to emigrate.
  • 0% of medical practitioners are optimistic about the NHI.

Marx says although the NHI’s unworkability and unaffordability provide enough reason to abandon the NHI plans immediately, this is not the end of concerns.

“There has not been a significant increase in the number of doctors produced in the past ten years. Moreover, we now produce 58% fewer nursing students than in 2012,” he said.

Solidarity’s concerns echo those of the South African Medical Association (SAMA) and the South African Healthcare Professionals Collaboration (SAHPC).

SAMA said medical professionals were not adequately consulted and warned about an exodus of doctors because of the looming NHI.

SAMA chairperson Mvuyisi Mzukwa told SABC News they support the concept of universal healthcare but disputed whether the NHI Bill will achieve this goal.

He pointed to the crumbling public healthcare system, with dilapidated hospitals, a lack of resources, and a shortage of qualified staff.

The SAHPS said the NHI Bill and how it has been railroaded through parliament is an embarrassment as it is unimplementable, unaffordable, and unconstitutional.

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,” it said.

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