KZN Health MEC gives newly-appointed hospital CEOs their marching orders

Find creative solutions to challenges

Treat patients with care and respect

Deal with errant staff

And be accessible and accountable to the public - or there'll be consequences

16 September 2022

KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane has called on a group of newly-appointed hospital CEOs to ensure that patients are treated with care and dignity, and to find creative problem-solving skills to address challenges they may come across.

At a recent induction and orientation programme for the CEOs held in Durban, which was also attended by district directors and officials from head office, MEC Simelane congratulated the CEOs and called on them not to allow themselves to get bullied, and to get tough with errant staff members - including those who take tea breaks en masse, leaving patients stranded.

The newly-appointed CEOs are Dr Londa Buthelezi (Pholela Community Health Centre), Ms Florina Mokwena (Fort Napier Hospital), Ms Babhekile Msomi (Catherine Booth Hospital), Mr Nhlanhla Mthembu (Nkandla Hospital), Ms Nelisiwe Ngubo (St Appolinaris Hospital), Mr Sithembiso Nkosi (Nkonjeni Hospital), and Ms Mabel Zulu (Benedictine Hospital).

MEC Simelane called on all hospital CEOs, old and new, and on all senior management across the Department, to put the patient at the centre of what they do, at all times.

She also warned CEOs and other managers who refuse to publicly display their contact details - or those who switch off their phones or give the wrong contact details - that they would be putting themselves at risk of being charged for insubordination, as the publication of such details was now Departmental policy.

In what amounted to a management masterclass, MEC Simelane said: "There is hierarchy for a reason in a healthcare facility. You are called a CEO and manager for a reason. You are expected to manage every single person in the facility. And someone who can't be managed by you must then go and be managed elsewhere. If they can't take instructions from you as the CEO, then they must leave.

"Yes, we don't want people to leave will-nilly, but we also don't want chaos. So, as managers, make sure that you stamp your authority. It's not about being rude or arrogant, but knowing your responsibility and authority and power as manager, and making sure everyone accounts to the authority that is there.

Of course teamwork is there, and we expect you to work and lead the team, but at the end of the day, the buck stops with you."

She urged the CEOs to be hands-on, without taking away responsibility from other people under their command.

"But let us know what is happening."

She urged the CEOs to "think outside the box" and get creative in addressing certain challenges, especially those that do not need money.

"When you know your facility has a problem of queues at, say between 7am and 10am. Do you have a plan of how to manage that? It might not even need you to employ more people, but it just might require you to rationalise your human resources properly. Sometimes, it might even require you as the manager to go and assist. You can be part of the solution."

Turning to staff who take tea breaks at once - which is a common complaint that the Department receives, the MEC said: "As managers it's an indictment on yourselves that you have patients who wait on the units, just because those who are operating those units have decided to go on lunch, or on tea break at the same time. How does it happen? Four people closing a pharmacy so they can go and have tea? Where is management? Management is about managing your human resources? When some go on a tea break, others must be there to serve the people. It's just one of the small things that we can do that do not require money."

She called on them to "have an attitude of a CEO that runs a private hospital, even in our own public hospitals."

"That is very important. The attitude of a private hospital is that the patient comes first, and they have a very low threshold for minimum waiting times. That is what we tend to expect when we go to private hospitals, but that is not the treatment that we give to our people. The poorest of the poor in our townships are the ones who should be getting this kind of treatment... they come to us because they have no other option. So, if we don't treat them in a manner that they should be treated in, then it means we don't deserve what ever we get from Government, or the positions we occupy."

In closing, the MEC urged the CEOs to respect her instruction for the prominent display of contact details, warning those who are defiant that there would be consequences.

"We have a programme where we advertise the cellphone numbers of our facility managers... CEOs, district directors and head office. We expect your numbers to be there, in all points. Not near the boardroom, so that when I ask where are your numbers, you don't say, You'll see it when we get to the boardroom, MEC. Your contact details must be prominently displayed everywhere in the facility, so that you're accessible. That poster must have contact details of yourself as the CEO, your PRO and the District Director's details, so that when our patients are not happy with yourselves, they know who to elevate it to. I get called at 1am, 2am in the morning, which is fine. But why must I be the only one who doesn't sleep, when it's your responsibility to manage your facility? I can't become a co-manager to your facility. So, we want those numbers to be put there, at every facility. And not just at one point, but in all the points that our patients access. Can we make sure you give us the number that you use, not the one that gets switched off, because that will amount to insubordination. This is now a policy of the Department.

ENDS Issued by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health

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This page last edited on 16 September, 2022

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