Major shake-up for Gauteng Health

Monday, February 27, 2012

Pretoria - A major shake-up is expected at the Gauteng Department of Health, with the MEC for Health Ntombi Mekgwe vowing to change the way the department does business.

"We are going to put in place new systems and processes to ensure that there is discipline and integrity in the manner that we do business," Mekgwe said during the post-State of the Province Address briefing on Monday.

She warned that close attention would be paid to managing overtime, curbing remunerative work outside of the public service, improving operational efficiencies and restoring the department's relationship with suppliers.

As part of ensuring discipline and managing overtime, Mekgwe said the department was in the process of disciplining nine doctors who claimed excessive overtime from the department. An investigation has shown that some of the doctors claimed to have worked overtime in hospitals where they are not employed.

The department would also be paying attention to some state doctors working in the private sector - without the approval of the department - as they do so during the time that they are supposed to be working in state hospitals.

In a bid to eliminate wastage, Mekgwe announced that the department had introduced an electronic gate keeping system to manage tests that are ordered from the National Health Laboratory Services.

While the system is currently being piloted at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, it will be introduced in 20 hospitals throughout the province. Mekgwe said since the start of the pilot late last year, the hospital has been able to save R40 000 a month in unnecessary tests.

"The system has also enabled the hospital to identify which doctors are ordering what kind of tests for which patients."

On the department's outstanding debts, Mekgwe reiterated that the department was working hard to settle all outstanding payments due to service providers and that all debts owed from previous years to March 2011 will be cleared by the end of next month. All other debts will be cleared by June this year.

From March last year to date, the department has paid R9.3 billion to service providers. A further R1.8 billion was paid by the Medical Supplies Depot.

"With the R1 billion made available by the Gauteng Provincial Government earlier this month, we have been able to pay SMMEs, food suppliers, security services, oil and gas, waste management services, nursing agencies, blood and blood products, medical suppliers and maintenance of medical equipment.

"By the end of this week we will use R250 million of that money to make further payments to service providers."

The department will focus on the turnaround strategy for hospitals, which includes addressing staffing, equipment, the number of beds, working environment, supply of drugs as well as patient and staff satisfaction and morale.

The construction of the Zola/Jabulani Hospital will be completed in October this year as a result of additional work needed at the dental suite, pharmacy, theatre and parking area.

Natalspruit Hospital is also expected to be completed in October this year.