Simelane-Zulu had “declared that the contact details of all hospital chief executives, district directors, and those in charge of dispatching ambulances will be made public”, the department said.
“Why should I be the only one who gets phone calls in the middle of the night? If we are serious about being public servants, then we must all be accessible to the public,” she said.
These changes were part of ensuring collective responsibility by senior management at the department. The MEC also revealed that the department would redeploy office-based qualified doctors and nurses at head office and across the province’s 11 health districts back into the field to serve communities at hospitals and clinics. This would be done in an organised and structured manner, and would boost capacity, she said.
Although the changes “are not likely to make me popular in certain quarters”, they were nevertheless crucial if the department was to successfully carry out its mandate of serving the people and improving health outcomes in the province.
“We are going to place an advert in the newspapers and on our online platforms with names and contact details (state-issued cellphone numbers) of district managers, all facility managers, as well as those who manage our emergency medical service. What this will do is ensure that when there is a challenge, if I’m in Zululand, for instance, I know who the district manager is.
“It will ensure that if I’m in a hospital in Vryheid, I know who the chief executive is, and therefore I will be able to reach them if I need to before the matter is shared on social or traditional media. A lot of these matters get publicly shared when they are just a misunderstanding,” Simelane-Zulu said.
She also vowed to continue lobbying for the unfreezing of more posts to relieve overburdened health care professionals. This could see the department filling up to 60% of posts.
“We are working to ensure that this situation is changed around because there are certain posts that we cannot afford to do without. We’ve asked the premier and national Health minister to help us to try to get money, so that we get at least 60% of the staffing that we need so that we are able to operate at an optimal level,” she said.