Speaking on CapeTalk, Sunday Times journalist Shanthini Naidoo, told Kieno Kammies that she did the story because she wanted to highlight the arduous plight doctors face while working 26-hour shifts.
Last year, when a student doctor died on one such shift, the story raised public awareness and concern about the conditions doctors are forced to work under.
Naidoo is close to two doctors working in public hospitals. She has witnessed the effects the 26-hour shifts have on these people and this made her want to understand the situation further. One of these doctors is a registrar at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. Like Naidoo herself, she is also a mother.
I wanted to see if I, as an ordinary person, could manage these shifts... and I can tell you, I didn't. It took me days to recover.— Shanthini Naidoo, Sunday Times journalist
Naidoo says the physical effects of the fatigue experienced by doctors subjected to these hours needs to be addressed. Given that overtime is capped, exhausted doctors are not complaining, because they're not being paid for overtime. This pressure has an accumulative effect and is being made worse by the continued shortage of medical staff in state hospitals.
We need 5 000 new doctors a year and we are putting out maybe 1 500.— Shanthini Naidoo, Sunday Times journalist
Listen here for more on Kieno Kammies interview with Naidoo about the crisis: