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Warning over restrictive new ‘NHI change’ for doctors in South Africa

Trade union Solidarity says it will strongly oppose proposed regulations that pave the way for the implementation of the so-called “Certificate of Need” for healthcare practitioners.

This follows after the proposed regulations were published in the Government Gazette for comment in June 2021.

In terms of the new regulations, all healthcare practitioners must apply for a certificate that will enable them to practice. Following this, healthcare practitioners will then be prescribed where and how they may practice.

Solidarity argues that these prescriptive regulations infringe on both the rights of practitioners and patients and are therefore unconstitutional. Furthermore, it will severely restrict the provision of healthcare services, it said.

“This certificate is nothing less than the effective takeover of healthcare practitioners’ practices,” said Henru Krüger, sector head of the Professional Guild at Solidarity

“By subjecting healthcare practitioners to these regulations, it forces them to surrender themselves to the state and to only practice as pawns, as and where prescribed by the state.

“These regulations are blatant exploitation of knowledge and skills to drive the state’s own agenda. This is detrimental to healthcare practitioners and patients whose constitutional rights of freedom of profession and freedom of association are not acknowledged,” said Krüger.

According to Solidarity, the government is trying to pave the way for the eventual implementation of the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) through these regulations.

The state already requires – through the NHI bill – that state departments and local authorities must approve the practitioner and their activities, and requires that healthcare practitioners specify who they will serve and accommodate within their practice.

“It is absolutely ridiculous that a healthcare practitioner cannot decide for themselves how they want to practice and that they must be prescribed which patients they may treat.

“The practitioners are basically subjected to forced labour that only enables them to practice according to the prescriptions of the state.

“They will no longer have any control over the nature of their practice. Leaving our healthcare practitioners completely in the hands of the state, which then decides whether they may practice or not, is something we cannot allow,” said Krüger.

Krüger said that the implications for medical care and the medical profession are far-reaching.

“The state does not have the ability to control the entire medical profession in the country. They do not have the skills or financial resources.

“We have already seen during Covid-19 the extent to which the state’s incompetence and corruption extends. We must do everything in our power to stop the further takeover of the entire medical industry by the state,” Krüger said.

Read: Government’s plans for masks and Covid screening as primary schools fully re-open in South Africa

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