Jack Bloom said he knows of “four Cuban doctors at the Bheki Mlangeni Hospital in Soweto who can barely speak English‚ write poor scripts and are accused by other staff of endangering patients”.
The Democratic Alliance member of the provincial legislature said he was “concerned by the poor expertise and language skills of some of these foreign doctors” after it emerged that their numbers had swelled by almost 500 since 2015.
He said that‚ according to a reply from Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu‚ out of the 6270 doctors employed in Gauteng public hospitals and clinics‚ the number of foreign doctors rose from 261 last year (4%) to 750 this year (12%).
“Mahlangu says that all their qualifications are checked through the SA Qualifications Authority‚ they have to register with the Health Professions Council of South Africa‚ and the validity of their work permits and immigration/refugee status is done quarterly‚” said Bloom.
Despite this‚ he insisted: “There should also be better monitoring of the performance of foreign doctors to ensure that they provide a quality service to patients.”
Last week‚ a delegation from Cuba consisting of Cuban Deputy Health Minister Marcia Cobas and South Africa’s Deputy Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla met at Tembisa Hospital to review the “cooperation agreement” and visit the hospital to see how Cuban doctors working there were coping.
“Gauteng has not traditionally received Cuban doctors. We were prioritising rural areas‚ but in the last year‚ the MEC for health requested doctors (because of shortages)‚” said Phaahla‚ who added that there are currently about 400 Cuban doctors in South Africa.
Bloom‚ however‚ raised concern about “locally trained doctors who can’t get jobs in Gauteng hospitals” and said that “preference should be given” to them as they are “generally well-trained and knowledgeable about the local disease profile”.