"Pull up your socks and manage or face the consequences," KZN Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu issues stern warning to hospital CEOs, Clinicians and District managers

19 September 2019

KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu says that the days of health facility managers, clinicians and health district leaders who are failing to manage, or who commit costly yet avoidable mistakes, with impunity, will soon be over.

While pointing out that the vast majority of healthcare professionals and managers are dedicated to their jobs, the MEC says that time is up for the minority “bad apples” at clinical and management level who are sullying the good name of the Department.

She wants stern action against those responsible for unnecessary loss of life and/or limb, which results in much pain and suffering - and an escalated medico-legal bill for the Department – instead of taking decisions that will save lives, fix challenges, and improve service delivery.

“You are paid to manage, and we expect you to manage. It’s about time we started looking at management seriously. Some of the reasons why our facilities are in such a bad state, and our people are not getting proper care... besides our own (real) challenges... is the fact that managers that we put in office don’t actually manage. So, we are going to insist that managers must manage, and we are going to insist on consequences. If there are no consequences, it means you as the CEO or district manager will suffer for it, because when there are (bad) things that happen and it’s a management of issue and you have not acted on it, I will expect the district manager and the head of department to act on you,”MEC Simelane-Zulu said, while delivering a speech during the handing over of a rejuvenated neonatal high care ward at Edendale Hospital in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

MEC Simelane-Zulu said that with better, more hands-on management, the Department’s massive medico-legal would not have sky-rocketed. She now wants to halt the runaway medico-legal bill, and immediately establish a new culture of effective and accountable leadership in the Department.

“As a CEO, you are the manager, you are leading the facility. We need to start managing in a manner that says you’re not managing friends. When you go to the private sector they will tell you... They take management very seriously. And consequences in the private sector are very quick. But because we are in the public sector we think our people ‘understand’... So, we don’t act when people do the wrong thing. For instance, we have a number of medico-legal cases... Some are because of touting, and because of people who are taking the Department for a ride. But others are as a result of negligence of our own medical officers. We are going to start acting on those. While we’ll be paying a lot of money to whoever we need to pay, because it’s a responsibility that we have, we are going to act on the medical people who actually have been negligent, if they have been found to have been so. Right now, while we pay, we also institute our own investigation.”

In what has already been widely applauded as the radical application of Batho Pele (People First) principles, the MEC has declared that the contact numbers and email addresses of hospital CEOs, district directors, and leaders of emergency medical, and forensic pathology services be made public.

Yesterday, she once again reiterated that the process of securing funds that will ultimately result in a minimum staff establishment of at least 60% at health facilities was ongoing. Once in place, this would help relieve pressure on overburdened staff and overcrowded facilities.

“We appreciate the fact that our short staffing sometimes creates those problems... and that is why we are trying to address the issue of staffing. But there are clear cases of negligence when you receive a report. And the Department has not been acting on that. Now, medical officers take an oath... We want to hold you down to that. But that is why we are dealing with the issue of staffing, because we don’t want to contribute to the issue of staff being exhausted, being burnt out and all of that. We need to ensure that we work together and turn around this Department.

“Generally, people are committed and want to do their work. And that is the attitude we want to encourage and go forward with.”

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This page last edited on 23 September, 2019

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