GARDEN ROUTE DISTRICT NEWS - Dr Mimmy Gondwe, a DA constituency head in George, is concerned that the lack of Sassa-appointed assessment doctors in the Garden Route will prevent hundreds of qualifying social grant recipients from receiving their due.
She says the President has allocated R50-billion for boosting socio-economic relief to social recipients, but those eligible for medical grants may not receive them because of the lack of doctors to assess them.
"It has been almost a month since the DA called on Sassa to do something about the shortage of contracted doctors in George," she says. There are still only four Sassa doctors serving all of George, Mossel Bay, Knysna, Riversdale and Plettenberg Bay.
According to Gondwe it is Sassa's responsibility to ensure that the hundreds of eligible people in this area can access social grants and services during lockdown, but their call "has been ignored". Because of the lack of doctors, there is a four- to five-month waiting list, which means these recipients might not receive the boost.
Martin Maas, a social grant recipient, recently spoke to George Herald about his struggle to see a Sassa-appointed doctor. He was told he might only get to see a doctor in mid-June or even July. "I got an appointment for mid-June," he said.
"I can't change the date so now I just wait. I hope that when the Sassa-appointed doctor deems me unfit to work that I will still be able to get the boost the President spoke about."
Responding to George Herald's enquiry, senior communications manager at Sassa, Shivani Wahab, says their offices are closed during the national lockdown, but Sassa call centres are fully operational for all social grant-related queries and for social relief of distress applications. However, they cannot process new social grant applications. "Post lockdown, we plan on the direct sourcing approach where we will approach doctors in the George area directly to assist. We are just awaiting authorisation from the CEO on this."
Wahab did not mention if social grant recipients who are still waiting to see a doctor, will eventually be included in the group receiving the socio-economic boost.
"Sassa did embark on a procurement process for this, which proved unsuccessful due to the scarcity of doctors in that vicinity."
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