patients Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital

(Photo by Gallo Images/Sharon Seretlo)

Lifeline for 8 000 health workers as EC department extends contracts

The Eastern Cape Health Department has extended the contracts of 8 000 health workers, who would have lost their jobs in the province.

patients Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital

(Photo by Gallo Images/Sharon Seretlo)

The Eastern Cape Health Department has thrown a lifeline to 8 000 frontline health workers who would have, otherwise, lost their jobs on 31 March 2021.

In a statement on Monday 29 March, the department said that after extensive consultation, the contracts of nurses and community healthcare workers will be extended by three and 12 months.

“This means the 8 000 frontline workers whose contracts were due to end on 31 March, will continue being in the frontline for another few months,” said Health MEC Nomakhosazana Meth.


The decision to extend the contracts of health workers was taken after a technical team led by Eastern Cape Department of Health acting Superintendent-General Dr Sibongile Zungu made a recommendation to the MEC.

“While the Department has serious budgetary constraints, the extension of the workers’ contracts was prioritised with the R400 million needed to pay their salaries found.”

“Ideally we would have extended their contracts long ago or advertise the positions if we did not have financial challenges,” said Meth.


Meth said with the third wave of COVID-19 expected to hit South Africa soon, the province will need all health workers hands-on deck.

“This is why it is important for us to renew their contracts so that they will continue what they have been doing and help us to reduce the spread of the virus.”

She added while the department wants to permanently employ the health workers there aren’t enough funds available.

“We would love to employ all of them permanently but the truth of the matter is that we just don’t have the budget. This is largely because of medico-legal claims, which we are working tirelessly to address.”

The MEC called on communities to follow lockdown regulations by wearing masks when in public, keeping at least two metres distance from others and regularly washing hands with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

READ: COVID-19 in SA: Over 100 000 healthcare workers vaccinated