Cornerstone of NHI taken down in court – Solidarity

Movement says medical sector in South Africa does not need yet more state bureaucracy

Cornerstone of NHI taken down in court

24 June 2022

Solidarity has succeeded in taking down one of the major cornerstones of the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI). This came after the North Gauteng High Court declared sections 36 to 40 of the National Health Act unconstitutional, with costs. 

According to Solidarity, the state’s goal with these sections clearly was to pave the way for the NHI and to compensate for the bankruptcy of the state coffers. 

“The government wants to change to a system in which health care is nationalised and health care practitioners become servants of the state so that the provision of all health care can be centrally controlled by the state. This victory thwarts those disastrous plans,” said Solidarity CEO Dr Dirk Hermann. 

Sections 36 to 40 provided that health care practitioners had to obtain a certificate of need (CoN) from the Health Department before they could establish a practice in a specific area. 

In its application Solidarity argued that the requirement of a certificate of need infringes unlawfully on the right of health practitioners to practise their profession. Solidarity said that had these sections come into effect it would have amounted to the expropriation, as it were, of health practitioners’ businesses and their property at the expense of both the practitioners and those who are currently making use of their services.

“In essence, these sections would have empowered the government to capture medical practices almost entirely and to manage them at will – rather than them being run at the discretion of the doctors. We cannot simply hope that the government would simply always apply its wide discretions responsibly. A government should not have such powers at all,” Hermann explained.

Solidarity contends that health care decisions should rather be taken by health practitioners and that ultimately more intervention from the government harms everyone.

“The medical sector in South Africa does not need yet more state bureaucracy. As a matter of fact, we have to empower and encourage our health practitioners. This type of legislation leads to poorer care, a sicker country and indignation from medical practitioners whose rights would have been trampled on as a result. We are delighted by this ruling, which is a major victory for health practitioners and health care in South Africa,” Hermann concluded.

Issued by Connie Mulder, Spokesperson, Solidarity, 24 June 2022