The Department of Health says it's gravely concerned that academic disruptions at university campuses will negatively impact next year's intake of medical interns.
This comes after UCT's Health Sciences Faculty announced that it was suspending classes for all undergraduates this year.
If this academic year is not finished to get students to go to work as doctors in our facilities then we will have a problem.— Joe Maila, spokesperson for the Department of Health
It's expected that at least 1 200 medical graduates will be placed across the country in 2017, but protest action
Health Ministry spokesperson Joe Maila says that if the academic year is not completed at universities, there will be consequences to the public healthcare system.
Medical students in their final year of study have already received provisional placement for their internships, Maila explains.
He says that the department has never found itself in this situation before and will have to redistribute resources to deal with the poor doctor-patient ratio.
The department says it is negotiating with those completing their internships this year to see if they can stay on longer in the public service.
Maila says that a reduced intake will add to the existing strain on the public healthcare system, which sees a general shortage of doctors.
Listen to the entire discussion with Joe Maila: