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. Eastern Cape health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said his department would put Motsoaledi’s recommendations into effect.
“I do not want to compromise the process because of pressure from the media. I cannot give you the names until they have been notified procedurally.” Motsoaledi said he would report them to the SA Nursing Council, since they were both nurses by profession.
Further recommendations were that disciplinary measures be taken against the hospital’s administrator. Motsoaledi’s investigators had found gross mismanagement at the hospital, which was investigated with other hospitals in the OR Tambo district after the release of the coalition’s report.
He noted as an example of the mismanagement, an incident involving price inflation while purchasing stationery. “Folders that could be purchased for R3000 have been found to have been purchased for R30,000.”
He said the hospital could be the best in the district if it was well managed. “It should be noted that this hospital was part of the Hospital Revitalisation Programme and a sum of R105 million was spent to refurbish this hospital,” he said.
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 tied.