Moratorium on hospitals lifted

THE provincial health department says it has lifted a moratorium on clinical and critical posts at 22 hospitals in the province.

The department confirmed that provincial health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo had lifted the freeze that kept hospitals from hiring staff.

This came into effect last week. The department was responding after the Democratic Alliance in the province said the freezing of posts was taking its toll on staff and the public health service.

New provincial health head of department Sibongile Zungu said the unfreezing of posts was an ongoing process.

"Our greatest area of focus is the clinical services, where we are faced with greater pressures," Zungu said.

"The unfreezing process has not stopped and we are continuing to consider all applications to unfreeze posts."

She said the improvement of health services depended on several key issues.

"The impact of these measures will depend on hospitals having certain key resources - motivated staff, equipment, information and finance," she said.

Health department spokesperson Chris Maxon said the lifting of the moratorium had been communicated to all hospital managers.

"The 22 hospitals were targeted because of the priorities and needs of the specific districts," Maxon said.

Other requests for unfreezing are still being considered through the relevant senior management.

"Institutions that have not submitted their requests for unfreezing clinical posts are asked to do so," he said.

Maxon said the department based its decision on the needs in specific districts.

"The key hospitals in Durban, for example, are within a close radius," he said. "The decision to fill posts at one hospital cannot be looked at in isolation.

Maxon said the filling of posts in rural areas remained a challenge.

"The ability to recruit and retain people in such areas is a nightmare. Health workers do not want to work in areas where accommodation and access to shopping facilities and banks is an issue," he said.

Critical posts at the following hospitals have been unfrozen. Appelsbosch Hospital, Church of Scotland, Emmaus Hospital, Hlengisizwe CHC, Fort Napier Hospital, GJ Crookes, Grey's Hospital, Inkosi Albert Luthuli (Nursing), King Edward Hospital (O&G), KwaDabeka CHC, Lower Umfolozi War Memorial hospital, Madadeni Hospital, Manguzi Hospital, Mbongolwane Hospital, Northdale Hospital, Rietvlei Hospital, St Aidan's Hospital, St Apollinaris Hospital, St Margaret Hospital, Umgungundlovu clinics, Umgungundlovu district office and uThungulu district office.