Pharmacists Petition for Employment in the Public Sector

Office of the MEC-KwaZulu-Natal Health

Office of the MEC-KwaZulu-Natal Treasury

The Head of Department of Health: KwaZulu-Natal

The Head of Pharmaceutical Services: KwaZulu-Natal

Chief Director - Human Resources Management Services: KwaZulu-Natal

Office of the South African Pharmacy Council  

 

 

We, the unemployed Pharmacists in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, are submitting this petition with an aching heart. The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health has failed to advertise even one Pharmacist position in the current year 2022.  

 

1.       CIRCULAR PROVIDING LIMITATIONS TO APPOINTMENT OF NEW CANDIDATES

It is said that there is a circular that provides limitations to the advertisement and appointment of new candidates in the department. It really disturbs us, the unemployed Pharmacists, to note that recruitment of other healthcare professionals (Medical Officers, Professional Nurses, etc.…) are being conducted by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health (with reference to KZN DoH vacancy portal). We seek clarification on the criteria for limitations of the recruitment process. Does the circular provide limitations to Pharmacists only?

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health once stated that the normal recruitment process to fill vacant positions is dependent on the availability and structure of funds within the institutions, which is said to be a challenge in the department.  

In some institutions, Pharmacists have exited the institutions or been promoted to senior positions. Those vacant positions have not been filled yet. Why are positions of Pharmacists that have exited the institutions or been promoted to senior positions are not filled?  

These candidates currently occupy new positions with new benefits. Their positions remain vacant. Appointment of a new candidate in an existing position will not require an additional budget from the department. As a result, it will allow new graduates to enter the system.

  2.       PRIORITIZATION OF BURSARY HOLDERS OVER NON-BURSARY HOLDERS

Dr Pixley Ka-Isaka Seme Memorial Hospital advertised three positions for Pharmacists on the 23rd of June 2021 as per the circular number DPKISMH27/2022. The advertisement of the Pharmacists positions was later withdrawn. The institution’s Human Resources Department confirmed that it was given a mandate by the Head Office to prioritize bursary holders for appointment of three Pharmacists.

We demand that the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health do not prioritize bursary holders over non-bursary holders. The bursary holders are not the only citizens of South Africa that participate in the development of the country, including participating in the voting process. Therefore, benefits should not only concentrate on one group. Recommendations should be made for non-bursary holders. The actions of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health do not define democracy i.e., the achievement of equality.

We demand that the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health should not move forward with policies that were beneficial in the past. The recruitment of bursary holders may have been beneficial in the past when the department had enough vacancies and budget for graduates.  

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health reserves the right to terminate the contractual agreement that place bursary holders at advantage over non-bursary holders after Community Service. We demand the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health to exercise their authority as such.  

We demand that the positions available in the Department of Health be advertised and follow a normal recruitment process. The interview process should not be waived for bursary holders. We all deserve to be given a fair chance in an interview process.  

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health should benchmark with other provinces who exercise a fair and transparent recruitment process of candidates who completed Community Service. Other provinces allow Post-Community Service candidates to compete for limited positions in an interview process, making sure that they prioritize candidates who undertaken Community Service within their province.

 

  3.       ABSORPTION OF COVID-19 CONTRACTED WORKERS

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health is moving forward with the motion of absorbing COVID-19 contracted workers as per circular 29 of 2022. The department highlights that the decision was influenced by the fact that it has been a challenge to fill the vacant positions from 2015 due to financial constraints.  

Therefore, the department has made recommendations for institutions to suspend advertisement of positions to prioritize COVID-19 contracted workers. The advertisement of Pharmacists positions is affected as it is among the occupations listed in the circular.  

The resolution taken by the department to employ COVID-19 contacted workers was to assist the department to reach it objectives during the COVID -19 pandemic. There was no promise of employment thereafter. Should there be vacant positions in the department, a normal recruitment process must apply.  

We demand the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health to exercise a fair and transparent recruitment process of employment. Professionals must be granted employment based on merit in the interview process. There should be no preferential in the recruitment process.  

We demand that the positions available in the department be advertised. Every professional, whether its COVID-19 contracted or non-contracted candidates, who meets the requirements of the position be given a fair chance in an interview process.  

Professionals who are non-bursary holders and non-COVID-19 contracted workers are disadvantaged of employment by the department. We demand the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health to stop profiling and marginalizing professionals. These actions constitute to ‘professional discrimination’ which is in contrary with the constitution of South Africa.

 

  4.       CROSS-TRANSFER CANDIDATES TO FILL VACANT POSITIONS

We demand that the cross-transfer candidates to fill vacant positions (of candidates who exited the institution or promoted) go through a competitive interview process. Unless two candidates are swapping from different institutions. Those candidates who occupy vacant positions deprives the entry of new graduates into a system. Vacant positions should be competitive.  

It is said that the department saves money by maintaining a cross-transfer culture. The department does not save money. One candidate takes a cross-transfer to a vacant position, the other candidate from a different institution fills the position, another candidate takes the position of the one who just filled the previous position. The cycle continues within the department until the vacant position is not filled. These actions deprive new graduates from entering the system.

 

As a result, the department does not save instead it create pressure on the existing staff as there are Pharmacists positions which are not filled within the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health.   We cannot shy away from the fact that Pharmaceutical Services is one of the components that saves the department a lot of recruitment budget. Pharmacies are operating with volunteering or training Pharmacist Assistants. The volunteering or training Pharmacist Assistant assist in improving service delivery because they are involved in labour practice.  Does the department have no budget for unemployed Pharmacists?   During the budget structuring was unemployed Pharmacists accounted?

 

  5.       SOUTH AFRICAN PHARMACY COUNCIL TO ADVOCATE FOR PROFESSIONALS

Pharmacists are required by the South African Pharmacy Council to pay an annual fee. The Department of Health has made it an obligation for Pharmacists to produce a proof of payment when applying for vacancy in the department. If the department does not create enough employment for Pharmacists, how are we going to pay the South African Pharmacy Council? The requirements are challenging for professionals who are unemployed to pay annual fee.   We have no objections to the requirements of the South African Pharmacy Council. However, we will appreciate if the South African Pharmacy Council can engage with the Department of Health on the matter of creating employment for Pharmacists, especially Post-Community Service Pharmacists.  

 

CONCLUSION

We wish the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health and relevant stakeholders to receive a petition with signatories from Pharmacists. The signatories on this petition are in favour of the above proposed motion by Pharmacists.  

We demand the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health to provide amicable solutions on the above matters. Relevant stakeholders mentioned in this petition will be appreciated if they can engage with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health to assist in seeking solutions.  

We further stress that the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health to stop profiling and marginalizing professionals. We demand that the department create employment for unemployed Pharmacists.  

We demand that the withdrawn positions of three Pharmacists at Dr. Prixley Ka-Isaka Seme Memorial Hospital to prioritize bursary holders be re-advertised. ‘Professional discrimination’ should not apply.  

We expect the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health to give us feedback within ten working days (from the day the petition is submitted) with a reasonable timeframe of when can we, the unemployed Pharmacists, expect employment.  

Failure of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health to respond with a positive outcome. We promise to hand the matter to the hands of the Public Protector.  

Yours Kindly,

The Unemployed Pharmacists


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