Pretoria - The South African Medical Association (Sama) says it is dismayed and angered at the “continued persecution” of paediatric gastroenterologist Dr Tim de Maayer, after he was recently reinstated at Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital in Gauteng following the furore caused by his suspension.
Sama chairperson, Dr Mvuyisi Mzukwa said De Maayer continues to be persecuted by officials at the hospital after he was suspended earlier this month for speaking out against poor conditions at the hospital which, he noted, directly caused the deaths and disability of children at the facility.
“Following a public outcry and pressure from medical entities, Dr De Maayer’s suspension was lifted. However, it has now emerged that a disciplinary process against Dr Maayer has begun which could lead to his eventual dismissal,” said Mzukwa.
He said De Maayer’s brave exposure of conditions at Rahima Moosa sets an example for medical professionals across the country whose first responsibility is to their patients, not the facilities who employ them.
“What is happening with Dr De Maayer now is nothing more than a vindictive attempt by hospital authorities to silence a critic of their poor administration. This is unscrupulous, unethical, and shameful behaviour by the CEO, Dr Nozuko Mkabayi, and must be halted immediately,” said Mzukwa.
“The current situation is dire, and it is equally shameful that the Gauteng Department of Health has not intervened sooner to deal effectively with the matter. Of greater concern, is that it appears little movement is being made to improve the conditions at the hospital that Dr De Maayer addressed initially.”
Sama is demanding that De Maayer be reinstated without condition, his concerns be addressed at the highest level within the Gauteng Department of Health, and that rectifying the issues raised by the paediatrician takes priority within the department.
Sama also urges the provincial department to urgently institute an investigation into the CEO, with a view to institute disciplinary procedures against her “that should lead to her eventual dismissal”.
“That a facility in the richest province in the country has been allowed to sink to the depths that Rahima Moosa is currently at, and which a leading paediatric gastroenterologist in South Africa pointed out, is beyond unbelievable. It is now incumbent upon the Gauteng Department of Health to do the right thing by stepping in to deal decisively with the people who caused the problem, not those who are highlighting it,” said Mzukwa.
In his open letter, De Maayer exposed, among others, that the hospital’s tomography scanner had been broken for three months, how the toilets looked when the water was off and how “hospital-acquired infections spread like wildfire”.
Amid the furore caused by the suspension, Gauteng MEC for Health Nomathemba Mokgethi said she met with the Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital chief executive Nozuko Mkabayi, head of the department of paediatrics and child health at the facility, Professor Ashraf Coovadia and De Maayer to engage on the matter regarding his precautionary suspension.
According to the Gauteng Department of Health, the meeting was “fruitful” and the matter was “resolved amicably” and De Maayer was reinstated back at work.
“The department remains committed to tackling challenges within the Gauteng Health system, while continuing to render services to millions of patients annually”, said Mokgethi last week.
The department said the team of the hospital has agreed to work together to continue to address the issues raised in De Maayer’s open letter.