Action on health crisis

TURNAROUND STRATEGY: Eastern Cape health MEC Sicelo Gqobana. PHOTO: MLONDOLOZI MBOLO
TURNAROUND STRATEGY: Eastern Cape health MEC Sicelo Gqobana. PHOTO: MLONDOLOZI MBOLO

EASTERN Cape's top health bosses met in East London yesterday to make last-minute changes to the department of health's much-publicised turnaround strategy.

The core function of the new five-year strategy is to ensure clinical services are boosted in the province.

Speaking to the Daily Dispatch yesterday, Eastern Cape health MEC Sicelo Gqobana said: "There is an absence of clinical services and skills in the department . we are going to change that with this plan . it is our new core function."

The MEC blamed the lack of clinical services in the province on the excessive amount of administrative officials in the department.

"They hamper service delivery and ultimately affect people on the ground. We are going to change this," Gqobana promised.

The meeting at the department's call centre on the Esplanade was attended by all institutional CEOs, district managers, director-generals, the technical service unit and the national treasury.

Gqobana admitted that the primary goal of providing quality healthcare in Eastern Cape had long been forgotten by the department.

"But the honeymoon is over," he said. "We are expecting change from these officials. We are going to have change and they will take responsibility if this plan is not put into practice."

The MEC said while the department was "very good" at drawing up strategies it constantly failed to get them "out of the boardroom".

Certain aspects of the plan have already been implemented and the remainder is expected to follow shortly.

Gqobana and provincial health superintendent-general Siva Pillay took over the department, which was in complete disarray, last year.

"The SG has my complete support in ensuring the plan is put in motion . whoever fails in this will be held accountable," he warned.

Before Gqobana and Pillay's arrival the province had been plagued by overcrowding in hospitals and clinics, poor hygiene, shortages of medication and even went bankrupt early last year.

According to the MEC other elements to be targeted by the turnaround strategy include:

  • Getting the right people for the job;
  • Improving call-out times for government ambulances;
  • Ensuring each institution has proper equipment;
  • Ensuring that hygiene is maintained;
  • Ensuring a complete turnaround of supply-chain management, where tenders are used; and
  • Moving to a higher level of service delivery.

The MEC said following the Dispatch's exposé of the shocking state of government-run mortuaries in the province they discovered at least four tiers of management in charge of morgues.

"We are going to channel everything through one person instead," he said.

Pillay said the turnaround strategy would concentrate on fixing the "skeleton" of clinical services.

"We will fix the first 20 hospitals instead of pretending to fix all of them," he said. -michaelk@dispatch.co.za

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