Health workers organisation may challenge ‘unconstitutional’ NHI Bill in court

In this file picture, the Netcare hospital N1 City. Picture Courtney Africa/IndependentNewspapers

In this file picture, the Netcare hospital N1 City. Picture Courtney Africa/IndependentNewspapers

Published May 15, 2024


The South African Health Professionals Collaboration (SAHPC) may launch a legal challenge against the National Health Insurance Bill as President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to sign the bill into law on Wednesday.

The SAHPC is an organisation representing over 25,000 medical, dental, private and public sector healthcare workers. They expressed disappointment that the president was signing the bill into law.

Along with its numerous submissions and participation in the NHI parliamentary process, the SAHPC said it made a submission to the president in December, urging him to return the Bill to Parliament on the grounds that it was unconstitutional and not in the best interests of patients and citizens.

SAHPC spokesperson Dr Simon Strachan said their suggestions and ideas have been overlooked by Ramaphosa and that they had no doubt that the NHI Bill would be challenged in the courts. They too, he said, were exploring the possibility of challenging the bill legally in court.

“SAPHC also believes its members’ concerns and recommendations throughout the parliamentary process were systematically ignored, raising serious questions about the fairness and effectiveness of the democratic process.

“SAHPC members, representing a diverse array of healthcare specialities, have consistently advocated for policies that prioritise the well-being of patients and ensure the sustainability of the country’s healthcare system,” said Strachan.

According to the Department of Health (DOH), the NHI is a fund that will be used by the government to purchase healthcare services from commercial and public sector providers for South Africans.

The SAHPC said their disappointment arises not just from the contempt for their experience, but also from the possible ramifications that the unworkable bill could have on the healthcare sector.

“Our members have made submissions at every stage of the legislative process, dating back to the release of the green paper in 2011.

“It is disheartening to see our efforts to contribute to a more robust, workable and patient-centric healthcare system being ignored.

“Where we are now is unprecedented, and we believe that the NHI, in its current form will reverse, rather than progress, equitable, quality healthcare in South Africa,” said Strachan.