KZN Health MEC announces major departmental shake-up aimed a improving service delivery

Media Stateement

08 September 2019

  • All Hospital CEOs and District Manages' contact details to be made pulic in order to improve accountability; access to healthcare; and recource for aggreive patients
  • MEC to continue lobbying for funding to fill up to 60% of posts to relieve overburdended heathcare professional
  • Office-bound doctors and nurses at Head Office to be go back to the field to boost capacity at hospitals and clinics

KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu has declared that the contact details of all hospital CEOs; district directors; and those in charge of dispatching ambulances will be made public.

"Why should I be the only one who gets phone calls in the middle of the night? If we are serious about being public servants, then we must all be accessible to the public," she says.

The MEC says these changes are part of ensuring collective responsibility by senior management of the Department. As part of this new shake-up, the MEC also revealed that the Department will be redeploying office-based qualified doctors and nurses at head office, and across the Province’s 11 health districts back into the field, to serve communities at hospitals and clinics. This would be done in an organised and structured manner, and will boost capacity.

MEC Simelane-Zulu says although the changes were not likely to make her popular in certain quarters, they were nevertheless crucial if the Department is to successfully carry out its mandate of serving the people, and improving health outcomes in the province.

"We have realised as a Department that our people do not have an understanding of where to go when they have challenges in our facilities. They do not have a good understanding of the complaints procedure. It does not help that (due to our socialisation) s ome of us think that lodging a complaint amounts to making a nuisance of ourselves, rather than exercising a right.

We are going to place an advert in the newspaper and on our online platforms with names and contact details (state-issued cellphone numbers) of district managers, all facility managers, as well as those who manage our Emergency Medical Service. What this will do is ensure that when there’s a challenge, if I’m in Zululand, for instance, I know who the district manager is. It will ensure that if I’m in a hospital in Vryheid, I know who the CEO is, and therefore I can be able to reach them if I need to, before the matter is shared on social or traditional media. A lot of these matters get publicly shared - compromising patients’ right to privacy and dignity - when they're just a misunderstanding.

"So, the overall intention is to ensure that people have access to those who are responsible for managing. We must be able to work together. Managers are employed to manage. They are not there to be our friends. To manage is to be able to guide, but also ensure that there are consequences when your guidance is not being taken. If it means we must get refresher courses, then that’s what we must do. There are going to be consequences when things do not happen," she said.

MEC Simelane-Zulu also vowed to continue lobbying for the unfreezing of more posts in order to relieve overburdened healthcare professionals. This, she said, could see the Department filling up to 60% of posts.

"We know, because we have challenges, that there are nurses who end up serving two wards with 40 beds each, just because we've not been able to employ. We understand that that this takes a toll on you as a person, as a human being, and as a woman.

"We understand how Government got to where we are, whereby certain posts are exempted, and others non-exempted. It is due to cost-cutting measures. As a Department, we are working to ensure that that situation is changed around, because there are certain posts that we cannot afford to do without. We’ve requested the Premier and Minister to assist us to try and get money, so that we get at least 60% of the staffing that we need, so that we are able to operate at an optimal level.

"The commitment that we've received from the Premier is that he's willing to listen to us, but we need to reduce our bloated staff complement at head office. According to the Premier, there are too many of us at Head Office. So, some of us need to leave head office and come back and serve the community at facility level.

"So, we are saying if people need to go back to facilities, let them do that.

"Secondly, there are too many doctors at head office... Yes, it's good that they must manage because you need to manage with an understanding, but we must give them space to come back and be clinicians, and that's what we are going to do. And when we do that at head office, we must also consider how we're going to do it at district level. We must consider how many hours district managers can spend at our hospitals... Why must we be stressed about being overworked at hospitals when there are other people who can help us"

"We have a lot of doctors and other health specialists at head office. They should be able to indicate how many hours per month they will spending working in health facilities to assist with the skills that they have."

ENDS Issued by the KZN Department of Health

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