medicaldoctorReuters writes that while Michelle Cerfontyne was completing her medical training in 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic was overwhelming SA’s understaffed public hospitals, so the young doctor thought she would get a job easily.  

But when she started applying for posts prospectively in September, there seemed to be no vacancies. Since then, a second wave of the coronavirus in SA has brought hospitals close to breaking point.  Yet Cerfontyne’s 10 job applications have all been rejected.  She is one of scores of newly qualified junior doctors and hundreds of other medical staff unable to find placements, despite staff shortages in a pandemic that has killed more than 40,000 people.  Nearly 200 doctors, 325 nurses and 200 other health workers are unemployed, according to Hire our Medical Heroes, a campaign pressuring the government to take on more SA medical staff to tackle the pandemic.  Alex Van Den Heever, an expert in the administration of public health at Wits University, said budget constraints explained the anomaly.  He pointed out that the government was trying to rein in its huge national wage bill, “so there will be an emphasis on freezing posts”, including medical ones.  He added that there wasn’t enough flexibility in the budget system to release funds for sessional doctors.  Tshepile Tlali of the Junior Doctors’ Association (Judasa) said most unemployed doctors had finished their community service but had not been offered permanent jobs.  This included Cerfontyne, who, when she finished her training at a hospital in Mpumalanga, found they had no places to keep her on.

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