Gauteng health on road to recovery

Monday, November 27, 2017

A high-level intervention team has been appointed to coordinate a recovery plan for the Gauteng Department of Health. 

On Sunday, Gauteng Premier David Makhura, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and Health MEC Gwen Ramakgopa announced the appointment to the media in Johannesburg.

The provincial department has recently been beset by a number of challenges which were heightened by the Life Esidimeni tragedy. 

Following the Health Ombudsman recommendations, Premier Makhura has been working closely with Minister Motsoaledi and MEC Ramakgopa to implement the recommendations, as well as to ensure that the public health system in Gauteng functions optimally. 

In recent days, Premier Makhura said, it has emerged that there are critical inadequacies in the capacities and capabilities, and competencies to run the system.

These management inadequacies and incapacities have been clearly exposed by the Life Esidimeni tragedy.

Even though the provincial health department is now led by an experienced health leader who has previously led the department up to 2006 and also served as a Deputy Minister of Health, the Premier believes that MEC Ramokgopa needs support to turn the department around.

“She needs a high-quality management team to turn the fortunes of the department around. It is for this reason that we are announcing an intervention team,” he said.  

He said problems facing the department are not only financial but also managerial, hence the need for a high-level intervention team, which includes a professor of orthopaedics at Wits University, Professor Mkhululi Lukhele; a retired professor of paediatrics and child health, Professor Craig Househam; a part time senior lecturer at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Dr Edith Mntla; and a former Director of Policy Development and System in the National Department of Health, Nomvula Marawa.

The Gauteng Health Department is the biggest health system in South Africa and the African continent.

Premier Makhura said it is also a very complex system to run as it offers a huge training platform for health professionals, working with three universities in the province.

“It requires a competent, efficient, effective and dedicated management to lead the 68 000 working workforce that are servicing 27 million patient visits per annum.”

Terms of reference

He said the terms of reference will be fully completed in the next few days but the team will generally deal with Human Resources issues that include planning, development, management as well as mentoring of the whole workforce including engagement with labour.

The team is also expected to clean up the whole procurement system and demand management of the department as well as payment of suppliers; to clean up and align the whole departmental financial systems and audit control; to look into delegations of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and Heads of Hospitals and other health facilities in as far as maintenance of equipment and infrastructure; to review the whole healthcare delivery system and liaise with stakeholders and civil society; and review the whole system of regulation, compliance, quality monitoring and evaluation.

The team is also expected to provide support for the Executive Council Subcommittee on Health Finances and will receive support from the National Department of Health (NDOH).

Early last week, the Premier announced the appointment of a skilled and experienced financial manager, Michael Sachs, who is expected to sort out the financial problems of the department. -

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