Pretoria News - Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has unveiled a high-powered board to monitor and enforce safety regulations in the public and private health sectors.
Introducing the board of 12 members to stakeholders in Thursday, Motsoaledi said they would bring an end to a phase and usher in a new one.
“They will not impose standards, but will monitor quality,” he said.
Chairing the Office of Health Standards Board is specialist surgeon and consultant, Professor Lizo Mazwai, whose deputy is epidemiologist Professor Laetitia Rispel from Wits University.
Also sitting on the board are medical professionals, a legal mind, nursing experts, heads of faculty in institutions of higher learning, people in the pharmaceutical industry, and a business person.
The board was established in line with amendments to the National Health Act.
Motsoaledi said auditor-general Thembekile Makwetu would be its ex officio member.
The board is tasked with monitoring quality in the private and public health sectors to protect and promote the safety of users of health services in the country.
Board members will be making unannounced visits to hospitals.
“It will ensure that health establishments meet the required standards, and that complaints about health standards are investigated and action taken when necessary,” Motsoaledi said.
He said it would be independent of those it would monitor, and soon it would move into the provision of health care by emergency services.
The issue of safety was of paramount importance, the minister said.
“In cases of persistent failure to comply they will take further action,” he said, adding that could take the form of disciplinary action against officials.
“If all else fails and public health and safety is at risk, the institution or at least part of it might be temporarily disabled.”
The setting up of a benchmark for the delivery of healthcare, with which health establishments were expected to comply, was one of the major benefits for the public.
“Establishments which are certified as compliant will participate in the National Health Insurance,” Motsoaledi said.
Members of the public would benefit, because this would bring them better and universally funded health care.
The minister promised to tackle the two key issues affecting the delivery of quality health care: the lack of quality health care in public health facilities and exorbitant fees in the private sector.
He said: “This year we are taking the bull by the horns, solving two problems in one fell-swoop.”
At the same occasion, Health Information and Quality Assurance Authority chief executive Dr Tracey Cooper said quality was all about the people.
She advised the department to ensure that regulations were in place and geared towards improvement. “There must be improvements, because people will not tolerate standard services.”
Safety was also key, as were assessments and outcomes. People had to be engaged, accountability and responsibility recognised.
“People must know what they are responsible for, in clinical and management positions,” said Cooper.
* Chairman: Professor Lizo Mazwai is a specialist surgeon, consultant and commissioner of the Eastern Cape Planning Commission (Quality Health Care convener).
* Deputy: Professor Laetitia Rispel from Wits: head of the School of Public Health: Faculty of Health Sciences, and scientific director for the Health Policy Research Group of the South.
* Dr Ethelwynn Stellenburg is experienced in clinical management, and is the head of Nursing at Stellenbosch University.
* Professor Gert Jacobus van Zyl is the dean of Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Free State.
* Professor Sabiha Essack is dean of the School of Health Sciences and professor in pharmaceutical sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
* Dr Zameer Brey is chief executive for the SA TB Vaccine Initiative.
* Advocate Simon Lebala SC of the Pretoria Society of Advocates is a member of the Pretoria Bar, who also acts as a judge.
* Kwena Mabotja is a senior specialist for regulatory and corporate affairs support at Telkom.
* Martin Kuscus is a businessman and a former MEC of finance in the North West, who worked in health care for 17 years.
* Professor Stuart Whittaker founded the Council for Health Service Accreditation of Southern Africa, of which he is chief executive.
* Vuyiswa Dabula-Majola is an Aids activist and gender activist who holds a BA in health sciences and a major in psychology and an MA in HIV management.
* Thembeka Gwagwa is general secretary of Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA. She is a recipient of the Mary Tolle Wright Award for Excellence in Leadership.