He was announcing the findings and recommendations of a probe sparked by a report by the Eastern Cape Health Coalition titled “Death and Dying. An Investigation into the collapse of a healthcare system”.
“It is my intention that the CEO should be suspended with immediate effect,” Motsoaledi told reporters in Pretoria. “It is [also] my intention that the nursing services manager should also be suspended with immediate effect pending the full investigation.”
Motsoaledi did not name them. He intended reporting them to the SA Nursing Council, since they were both nurses by profession.
Further recommendations were that disciplinary measures be taken against the hospital administrator. Motsoaledi’s investigators found gross mismanagement at the hospital, which was investigated along with other hospitals in the OR Tambo district after the release of the coalition’s report.
The district is in one of the 11 pilot districts for the National Health Insurance initiative. In its report the coalition, which includes Section 27 and the Treatment Action Campaign, called for drastic action to rebuild the province’s health care system.
It detailed stories of patients being unable to get help at hospitals and clinics because of a lack of medication. It identified mismanagement of funds as an underlying problem, finding that the department overspent on its staffing budget by more than R1 billion in 2011/2012 because of above-inflation salary increases and poorly-managed employee benefits.
“I assure you the matter of mismanagement of funds is being dealt with and is receiving the attention it should be. We are doing something about it,” Motsoaledi said. Asked if he would take on the provincial leadership in the health department, Motsoaledi said his hands were essentially tied.
“There is no minister in the country that can appoint MECs. They are appointed by the premier. So I work with them.” More than R1bn would be spent upgrading the Eastern Cape’s healthcare system.
“In this case, we are implementing 287 projects covering new additions, upgrades, renovations and maintenance works in 132 facilities,” said Motsoaledi. He said 159 of these projects were in the construction phase, and the rest were at developmental phase.
The projects included the building and refurbishment of eight nursing colleges.