Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa. Picture: Masi Losi

Johannesburg - Provincial health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa will head the intervention team appointed to co-ordinate a recovery plan for the troubled Gauteng health department, the Gauteng government said on Sunday.

A statement issued after a press conference by Gauteng premier David Makhura, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, and Ramakgopa, said the provincial department had recently been beset by a number of problems, heightened by the Life Esidimeni tragedy.

Following the health ombudsman recommendations, Makhura had been working closely with Motsoaledi and Ramakgopa to implement the recommendations as well as to ensure that the public health system in Gauteng functioned optimally. 

"The Gauteng health department is the biggest health system not only in South Africa but on the whole continent. It is also a very complex system to run, as it also offers a huge training platform for health professionals, working with three universities in the province. It therefore requires a competent, efficient, effective, and dedicated management to lead the 68,000 working workforce that are servicing 27 million patient visits per annum," the statement said.

In recent days, it had emerged that there were critical inadequacies in the capacities and capabilities and competencies to run the system. These management inadequacies and incapacities had been clearly exposed by the Life Esidimeni tragedy.

"In the aftermath of the tragedy, in trying to solve these unfortunate incidents, the premier recalled from retirement a very experienced health leader who ably led the department of health in Gauteng up to 2006 and also served as a deputy minister of health, Dr Gwen Ramokgopa.

"Even with her experience it is clear that she cannot turn around the whole department on her own. She needs a high-quality management team to turn the fortunes of the department around," the statement said.

Early last week, the premier announced skilled and experienced financial manager Michael Sachs to sort out the financial problems of the department.

The rest of the team are Wits University professor of orthopaedics Mkhululi Lukhele, who has just completed his term as head of the Wits school of clinical medicine; Professor Craig Househam, a retired professor of paediatrics and child health and the longest serving head of department in the public service; Edith Mntla, who holds a doctoral degree in nursing and is a part-time senior lecturer at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University; and Nomvula Marawa, a nurse by profession, who worked as a director of policy development and systems in the national health department.

The terms of reference would be fully completed in the next few days, but the team would generally deal with human resources; procurement systems; financial management; maintenance of equipment and refurbishment of infrastructure; the health service delivery system and clinical governance; and health system regulatory management, compliance, and quality control.