Pretoria - The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) in Gauteng said it had repeatedly called for the appointment of chief executives to run the struggling government hospitals in the province.
However, Denosa claims, the appointments have not been made despite pledges from Premier David Makhura.
“This is a concern that we have been vocal about. We have been saying the Department of Health in Gauteng needs to fast-track the appointment of hospital CEOs because having people who are acting in those positions make it difficult for them to make decisions and that interferes with service delivery and nurses being able to execute the duties on the ground,” Denosa Gauteng acting provincial secretary Bongani Mazibuko said.
Denosa, the largest nurses’ trade union in South Africa with a membership exceeding 84 000 members, urged Health MEC Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi to reverse the trend of hiring acting heads of public hospitals.
Mokgethi was appointed MEC in December, taking over from Dr Bandile Masuku, who was fired by Makhura over alleged Covid-19 tender irregularities.
“Dr Masuku had initiated a clinician-led department, and we think it is important to continue with that programme because once you have people who are clinicians leading in clinical departments, then you are able to get leadership which is much more effective,” said Mazibuko.
“With Dr Masuku, we did see a number of CEOs being appointed and we are hoping that it will be the same with Dr Mokgethi as well – not that we are comparing the two.”
Meanwhile, the DA has said 10 out of 36 public hospitals in Gauteng are run by acting CEOs “despite Premier David Makhura’s promise in July 2019 that all hospitals would have permanent CEOs within 100 days”.
DA Gauteng spokesperson for health Jack Bloom said the Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital and the Tshwane District Hospital have also been without a permanent CEO for more than a year.
Former CEO of the Tshwane District Hospital, award-winning Dr Naing Soe, was last year moved to the infamous Mamelodi Hospital which had appeared repeatedly in the news over mistreatment of patients.
Soe was credited with turning around the image and service at Tshwane District Hospital so that it became one of the preferred health facilities in Tshwane.
Bloom said other public health facilities being run by acting CEOs include Bertha Gxowa Hospital, Edenvale Hospital, Far East Rand Hospital, Jubilee Hospital, Lenasia District Hospital, Heidelberg Hospital, the Bheki Mlangeni Hospital and the Tembisa Hospital
“In six of the hospitals the CEOs have resigned or have been fired. In the case of Lenasia, it was upgraded from a clinic in May last year and now needs a CEO, and in three hospitals – Tembisa, Bheki Mlangeni and George Mukhari – the existing CEO is facing disciplinary charges. Incredibly, the Jubilee Hospital has had an acting CEO since January 2019, and Heidelberg Hospital since July 2019,” said Bloom.
“It is very disappointing that so many top positions at our hospitals have not been speedily filled with competent people. This is another one of Makhura’s failed promises as the Gauteng Health Department continues to be plagued by poor management and deficient patient care.”
However, department spokesperson Kwara Kekana said the provincial authorities are in the process of attracting competent men and women to run the government health institutions, but in some instances suitable candidates have not been found to fill the vacancies.
“One of the priorities of the sixth administration has been to strengthen governance and leadership. In late 2019, 11 hospital CEOs were appointed out of 14, with the department unable to find suitable candidates for the remaining facilities post the recruitment process,” she said.
“Advertisements of posts for hospital CEOs was done at various stages several times, including late last year, to attract suitable candidates. This included a head-hunting process where applicable previously. All vacancies were advertised nationwide and processes to suitably fill these positions are in progress.”
Kekana said the vacancies are the result of resignations and/or disciplinary processes.
“We agree that filling of vacancies has to be done as soon as practically possible to ensure stability. Stable leadership at any level of institutions is important for strong governance and employee morale. Hospitals’ executive management committee and the cluster system has assisted in filling any possible gaps in the management of facilities,” said Kekana.
She said the department has appointed CEOs for the Helen Joseph Hospital and Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital who both officially started in January 2021.
“These are part of the ongoing efforts to appoint CEOs at various hospitals in the province.” – African News Agency (ANA)