The South African Military Health Service (SAMHS) has deployed doctors and supporting personnel to the Dr George Mukhari hospital in Pretoria to assist the National Department of Health during a salary strike by its doctors.
A source says the SAMHS has deployed just over 20 doctors and supporting staff, which includes operational emergency care practitioners (“ops medics”) and nursing staff.
The Pretoria News
reports more than 336 doctors from Dr George Mukhari Hospital and 24 from Jubilee Hospital have ignored a court interdict issued on Friday barring them from striking.
The Gauteng Health department has threatened the doctors with dismissal and is mulling reporting them to the Health Professions Council of South Africa for going on an unprocedural strike.
The doctors are demanding occupational specific dispensation (OSD) payments, which then Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang promised in June 2007 would be implemented in 2008.
The health department asked the Department of Defence on Friday to “assist with ensuring that all critical health care requirements are met at those Provincial Hospitals affected…” the defence department said in a statement.
Deputy Minister of Defence Fezile Bhengu said “the Department of Defence, in keeping with its Constitutional mandate … to preserve lives, has acceded to the request and will deploy members of the SA National Defence Force to ensure that all critical health care requirements are met at those Provincial Hospitals affected by the labour action of doctors”.
“This contingency planning is taking place in close co-operation with the National Department of Health as the lead department in this regard.”
The SANDF and the SAMHS in particular performed a similar function during the 2007 public service strike to high popular acclaim.