Netcare concerned about hasty handover of hospital to Lesotho government
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NETCARE has expressed concern about the hasty handover of operations at the Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital and its four primary care (filter) clinics in Maseru to the government of Lesotho (GoL), which the hospital group had set for the end of this month but which has been expedited.
In a statement, Netcare said on Friday that this transition followed the GoL’s premature termination of the public-private partnership agreement, with effect from August 31, on disputed grounds.
The handover of the hospital and the filter clinics has been accelerated and services have been downscaled, as the GoL has failed to pay the contracted unitary fees for the past five months.
Netcare and the Tšepong consortium (which is the principal contractor in the public-private partnership agreement) presented the GoL with a handover guide based on the public-private partnership agreement.
The handover guidelines detailed the process to be followed to ensure an orderly transition and, more importantly, continuity of services so that patient safety and care was not compromised in any way.
The group said its principal concerns about the hasty handover stemmed from the GoL's failure to issue offer of employment letters to fully trained staff members who are essential to maintain capacity in the health system; engagement with key supply chain members required to ensure continuity of essential support services and technical maintenance of the estate; and the handover of medical equipment, including service agreements, to mitigate preventable downtime of life-saving equipment.
Other issues include the handover of medical drugs, consumables and durables, some of which have long replenishment lead times or are in short supply, as well as engagement with information and management system providers to ensure the appropriate transfer of system licences to maintain electronic record-keeping.
“We wish to warn against the hasty manner in which the GoL is seeking to expedite the handover process. This has the potential to create an unsafe operational environment, which may compromise the safety and care of patients. As Netcare, we will also not abandon or turn a blind eye to the infringement of employees’ rights by the GoL,” Netcare chief executive Richard Friedland said.
The group said notwithstanding that the merits for termination and repudiation of the PPP agreement by the GoL are disputed, Netcare had repeatedly stated that it would support an orderly handover process by August 31.
There is concern in Lesotho that the deal with Netcare, begun in 2008, had escalated to take up to 30 percent of the country's health budget.
Netcare became the only international partner among a group of companies awarded a contract to build and operate what would become the 425-bed Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital.
The deal included an agreement to build a nearby clinic and refurbish three others.
As part of a 2008 public-private partnership agreement, the GoL contributed almost R840 million to the hospital project.
Netcare closed 0.52 percent lower at R15.24 on Friday.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE