Public-private union will help all citizens

Mthetho Ndoni

In a major boost for health services in Nelson Mandela Bay, three hospitals - Provincial, Livingstone and Dora Nginza - will be upgraded to private hospital standards.

The hospitals have been the subject of widespread complaints ranging from the lack of bed linen to inferior service by overworked staff. But all this is about to change, thanks to a public-private partnership (PPP) between the government and a yet-to-be-named private consortium.

Finance MEC, Billy Nel, pictured, said it was hoped the contracts for the multimillion-rand project would be finalised shortly and that work would begin in June or July.

Dora Nginza Hospital might also become the teaching medical school for the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University's Vista Campus.

Under the PPP arrangement, the business consortium will upgrade and maintain the facilities and provide non-core services such as estate maintenance, catering and security.

The public sector will serve public patients and the private sector will service private patients in separate wards.

Each sector will have its own operating theatres, but there will also be shared facilities such as the admissions and maternity sections.

Nel said the focus of the partnership would be in areas where the challenges were the greatest.

One hospital where such a partnership already exists is in Humansdorp.

DA spokesman for health, Athol Trollip, said the facility was "spectacular".

Nel said the Bhisho administration would focus on the partnership over several years.

He said the Eastern Cape cabinet had agreed to establish three such facilities a year.

A transaction advisor has also been appointed by the PPP for the construction of residential accommodation for 500 healthcare professionals at St Elizabeth's Hospital in Lusikisiki.

The move would result in better healthcare for all citizens in the province.