Surgeons concerned at ECape govt's threats against clinicians

ASSA and FoSAS calls on provincial DoH to halt disciplinary action (July 1)

re: Threats against senior clinicians of the Port Elizabeth Complex of Hospitals

The Association of Surgeons of South Africa (ASSA) is a society affiliated to the South African Medical Association representing the general surgeons of South Africa and the Federation of South African Surgeons (FoSAS) an alliance of 10 general surgical organizations and societies.

Both ASSA and FoSAS note with concern the Eastern Cape provincial health authority's reaction, which includes initiation of disciplinary action, to the press statement released by the three clinical heads of unit of specialist departments at the Dora Nginza, Livingstone and Provincial hospitals which comprise the Port Elizabeth hospital complex (see Daily Maverick report).

In their statement to the press on the 25 June 2012, these senior colleagues highlight the difficulties they face in continuing to deliver an acceptable clinical service to the population that is served by these hospitals. They report that severe understaffing, of predominantly junior doctors, and the nonpayment of salaries are the primary cause of the current crisis.

These legitimate concerns have been raised on multiple occasions with the appropriate authorities and while it is known that the course taken to highlight their plight is contrary to their employment contract, ongoing silence in the face of such a crisis is both morally and ethically intolerable.

For this reason ASSA and FoSAS believe that the Eastern Cape health authority should respond to the issues these highly respected clinicians raise and should withdraw their draconian threats in the interest of the patients that both parties serve.

Statement issued by Elmin Steyn, President, Federation of South African Surgeons, and Martin Veller, Chairman, Association of Surgeons of South Africa, July 1 2012

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