PHSDSBC Continues to Address Forensic Pathology Officers Concerns
Johannesburg – Following the industrial action undertaken by Forensic Pathology Officers (FPOs) in 2017 in relation to performing and assisting with autopsies in certain provincial public health facilities, the Public Health and Social Development Sectoral Bargaining Council (PHSDSBC) has concluded an agreement/resolution (PHSDSBC Resolution 4 of 2017) to address the issue. The objective is to provide Forensic Pathology Officers (FPOs) and potential FPOs with access to training, danger allowances, counselling, representation, essential protective clothing and a sustainable model to register with a statutory body as professionals. By providing access career pathing and job evaluation, this will effectively open the door to career advancement and recognised qualifications.
Skills shortage is seen as one of the primary reasons for the need for a programme of this kind, which is why the PHSDSBC has made it a priority to upskill, empower and seek formal qualifications for FPOs. Despite the many complexities and challenges, steady progress is being made.
The Council is exploring entering into strategic partnerships with Skills and Education Training Authorities (SETAs) to facilitate the process of developing an accredited training for FPOs. The Health and Welfare SETA will be approached for guidelines regarding the training.
Currently, the Health Professionals Council of South Africa (HPCSA) is addressing the inputs on the regulations that were published for public comment, as well as seeking approval on the proposed professional designations of Student Forensic Pathology Officer, Supplementary Forensic Pathology Officer, Graduate Forensic Pathology Officer, and Forensic Pathology Officer Learner.
In addition, Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is to be taken into account for FPOs looking to enrol for a qualification, thus facilitating their path to becoming recognised to fully pursue their forensic careers.
The Department of Health is currently in the process of standardising job descriptions to ensure FPOs receive equal pay for work of equal value. Career pathing is also being addressed, with revised grades and pay notches heading the discussion; along with clear performance and progression criteria.
Due to the complex nature of this task, some delays have been experienced. However, the PHSDSBC has developed a communication strategy that is currently being rolled out to keep the FPOs informed of the latest developments regarding the implementation of the resolution. One of the processes the PHSDSBC is embarking on is the convening of mass meetings in the various provinces to consult with FPOs, collate information and keep them updated. The public and all interested parties will continue to be updated as and when developments occur.