The affordable education loan option
Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health has injected R10 million into the cash-strapped McCord Hospital to ensure its doors remain open until the end of the month.
But a pall of gloom still hangs over the historic hospital, whose fate is yet to be decided.
The Department of Health and the hospital’s board still haven’t reached an agreement on the on-again, off-again sale of the building, despite a series of meetings last week.
However, the hospital will remain open for at least another month.
Chairman of the hospital board Professor Paulus Zulu confirmed that the department had provided R10m after an interim agreement was signed at the weekend.
This would allow the hospital to continue operating during the month of September.
He wouldn’t comment on what was delaying the agreement, saying the parties had agreed not to discuss the terms independently.
However, a hospital manager had informed the Daily News last week that negotiations were deadlocked because the board wanted to be protected from future claims for 21 years, whereas the department had offered a capped amount.
With no clarification as to the 103-year-old hospital’s future, employees are unsure whether they will have a job at the end of the month.
One hospital source, who asked to remain anonymous, said the only information they received on Friday was that staff must return to work today.
Zola Saphetha, provincial secretary of the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union, said they had not received information regarding the outcome of Friday’s meeting but confirmed negotiations would resume on Monday.
“We are waiting to hear the outcome of the discussion but our legal team is preparing, in case no agreement is reached,” Saphetha said.
He said the two sides were disagreeing on monetary issues, with McCord’s board demanding more money from the Health Department.
Saphetha said they would seek an urgent interim court interdict to prevent the closure of the hospital if the deadlock remained.
Department of Health spokesman Sam Mkhwanazi said there was no new information as yet.
In February, the board announced the closure of the hospital after funding from the US was withdrawn and the Department of Health failed to renew a R70m funding agreement.
The board is asking the department to also cover its legal liability.
Zulu said the board could be sued by the public at any stage and they were taking the necessary precautions.