Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. File photo: Sharon Seretlo

Johannesburg - New recruits at the crisis-hit Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital were not paid their salaries last month.

Hospital chief executive Dr Sandile Mfenyana told employees in a circular sent out on Wednesday that their salaries would be paid only at the end of this month.

In the circular, Mfenyana said the Gauteng Department of Finance had not been able to process documents submitted for salary payments.

“As much as the Gauteng Department of Finance could not capture all the voluminous mandates that were sent for processing, a number of mandates were not submitted on time to meet the deadline (27 January 2014), owing to incomplete documentation that has to accompany the requests,” Mfenyana wrote in the circular.

Mfenyana promised that the hospital’s appointment section was “working around the clock to ensure that the outstanding salaries are processed”.

Gauteng Department of Health spokesman Simon Zwane said he was not aware of the circular.

Mfenyana, formerly the medical superintendent at Tembisa Hospital, became the hospital’s sixth chief executive in a decade last year.

Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, the biggest hospital in the southern hemisphere, with about 3 200 beds and 6 760 employees, has been hit by power outages for the past two weeks, forcing doctors to suspend all scheduled surgeries.

The Gauteng Department of Health blames cable theft for the power outages.

The provincial government apologised for the power cuts.

A 2013 report by the Treatment Action Campaign and Section27 on the breakdown of health services in Gauteng revealed that generators did not provide steady back-up and tripped repeatedly.

According to the two organisations, power failures had serious consequences, including the cancellation of operations and surgeons having to operate using headlights and cellphone lights.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela is also investigating irregularities and inefficiencies in the procurement of hospital medicines and equipment that lead to interruptions of essential services.

A group of doctors lodged a complaint with Madonsela, and staff have protested about dire shortages of medical personnel, medication and critical medical equipment.

During a surprise visit last August, Madonsela was told about equipment and bed shortages, dilapidated wards, overcrowding, dirty wards and inadequate staff.

The Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) was appointed the implementing agent for the emergency repair and refurbishment of the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. The department expects the DBSA project to finish emergency repairs and refurbishment by July 2016.

Renovations and refurbishments of the psychiatric wards and observation units are scheduled to be completed by the end of June.

Chris Hani Baragwanath, which has a budget of R2.7 billion, is one of the department’s priority tertiary and central hospitals, and one of Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s ministerial flagship projects in Gauteng.

In October last year, Health MEC Hope Papo said the hospital had delayed operations owing to limited resources and lack of co-operation from patients.

These included nearly 3 200 hepatobiliary, colorectal, breast, burns, cardiovascular, orthopaedic and ophthalmic operations, as well as general surgeries.

The hospital was hit by food shortages last year after suppliers were not paid by the department.

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Sunday Independent