Trade union Solidarity has sent a letter to president Cyril Ramaphosa warning about sections 36 to 40 of the National Health Act, which will pave the way for introducing a National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme.
In terms of the new regulations, all healthcare practitioners must apply for a ‘certificate of need’ that will enable them to practice. Following this, healthcare practitioners will then be prescribed where and how they may practice.
Solidarity said that the provisions of these sections and any resultant regulations are unconstitutional and unlawfully encroach upon the rights of healthcare practitioners.
“The proposed provisions are extremely worrying and are obviously unconstitutional on various grounds,” said Henru Krüger, head of the Medical Guild at Solidarity.
“Instead of broadening access to health care, this scheme will increase distrust between practitioners and the state to the detriment of all South African citizens.”
Kruger said the provisions are also irrational and without any logical link to the alleged objectives.
A certificate of need will also seriously encroach upon the rights of our medical staff to exercise their profession according to their own discretion, he said.
“Our health personnel are also citizens and also have rights. They are not merely assets of the state that may be allocated according to the government’s preferences.”
Paving the way for the NHI
Solidarity argues that the proposed scheme is a form of expropriation of medical personnel’s property at the cost of both the practitioners and those currently using their services.
“It is inconceivable that the government, owing to its inability to maintain its own institutions, now wishes to simply take over the facilities and staff of the private sector,” Krüger said.
“Furthermore, it means that anyone currently using these services will be deprived of their own vested access to healthcare. Instead of widening access to healthcare, these provisions are simply going to make us an even sicker country.”
Solidarity said it is willing to take this case further and believes this will become a watershed case in litigation concerning the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) and the accompanying looting of tax money.
“The objective of these provisions is clearly to pave the way for the NHI and further looting of tax money.
“The government wishes to move to a system where all healthcare practitioners will become servants of the state. We cannot allow this. There is no justification for this restriction of their constitutional rights, and we are ready to challenge it in court,” Krüger said.