By Dr Imran Keeka, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson on Health:
WHILE the DA welcomes the long overdue measures taken by KZN’s Health department – to deal with a litany of serious allegations, including patient mismanagement and death, at Northdale Hospital – it is not enough.
The situation at Northdale is dire and it would not be far-fetched to say that it is KZN’s ‘hospital from hell’.
Late last week it was reported that the DoH has moved the hospital CEO to another health institution while an investigation takes place. This “precautionary transfer” must be converted into a proper suspension until the matter is resolved. It is unacceptable that she is simply moved somewhere else in the interim.
There was also nothing gained by ‘naming and shaming’ the department’s underperforming CEO’s. The DoH needs to hold all CEO’s accountable by ensuring that strict performance contracts are signed, adhered to. If standards are not met, they must be given the boot.
Just a short while ago it was also discovered that there was expired medical stock worth a staggering R2million lying in the hospital storage facility, right under the noses of clearly incompetent managers.
Regrettably, Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo is usually slow to respond to serious issues. In the case of Northdale, he and his department took far too long to act, turning a blind eye. The question is why and whether we can expect this kind of procrastination to become the norm?
The DA is well aware that investigations of this nature can take a long time. We expect the MEC to expedite the probe into Northdale and other pending investigations. Millions of rands of taxpayers’ money are being wasted while individuals remain on the government payroll until protracted inquiries are completed. The DA is aware of one incomplete matter that is still dragging on after more than two years.
It is extremely unfortunate that KZN’s Health Department, under the political leadership of MEC Dhlomo, finds it hard to reconcile being an employer and as well as a former liberator.
In the interest of excellent healthcare, hard choices need to be made and the MEC must exercise the harder option more often than not.
The DA will raise this and other critical matters at a meeting of KZN’s Health portfolio committee scheduled for tomorrow. We do so in the hope that sense will prevail and that the people of KZN begin to receive the quality healthcare they deserve.