Solidarity launches PAIA application regarding NHI

Movement says government is contemptuous of processes and merely tries to steamroller policies

Solidarity launches PAIA application regarding NHI

18 October 2021

Solidarity announced today that it has launched an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) in connection with the controversial remarks made by the Health Department’s Deputy Director-General, Dr Nicolas Crisp. This came after Dr Crisp stated on 30 August that the National Health Insurance (NHI) would come into effect by the end of the year.

Following these comments, Solidarity addressed a legal letter to Dr Crisp in September this year, but he did not respond. Solidarity says it is therefore compelled to take more serious legal steps as this is causing major uncertainty among its members in the healthcare sector and elsewhere.

“It is extremely irresponsible of a civil servant to make such statements while we are still in the middle of a public participation process. This indicates that the government is contemptuous of these processes and merely tries to steamroller these policies,” Connie Mulder, head of the Solidarity Research Institute (SRI), said. “In addition, we have no information regarding the effect of implementing the NHI. What would this mean for members of medical aid funds? What would this mean for healthcare workers? How would this differ from the current state of affairs? The department has simply not given any indication of what this would mean for South Africans, despite the fact that health is something that directly affects every single person.”

Solidarity furthermore argues that research by the SNI has already indicated significant shortcomings in the proposed systems.

“More than 85% of the healthcare workers who participated in a study of the SRI indicated that the implementation of the NHI would lead to healthcare workers leaving the country. South Africa will therefore be left with a shortage of medical staff, which implies that quality and specialist healthcare services will be extremely scarce. Dr Crisp did not provide any information on what will change for medical specialists, and this increases uncertainty,” Mulder said. “According to our calculations, the NHI will leave South Africa with a deficit of R112 billion. South Africa simply cannot afford this, yet there is a resounding silence from the government about the specifics of how the NHI will be funded. The money cannot be borrowed, which implies citizens will be paying higher taxes, and the state is silent about where and how you are going to pay more taxes.”

“The NHI will make South Africa a sicker and poorer country. The fact that Dr Crisp thinks the government can simply impose such harmful and controversial legislation despite input, feedback and logic is extremely disturbing. The silence about the specific details of this legislation indicates that the government is contemptuous of the public. This implies that the government thinks they are going to lead the public up the garden path, and then one Sunday evening simply implement the NHI ‘with immediate effect’. We will not tolerate it. We demand answers about the future of healthcare, and we will force the government to provide these answers,” Mulder concluded.

Issued by Connie MulderHead, Solidarity Research Institute, 18 October 2021