EDITOR – A local Sunday paper of 14 January carried a full page advert commissioned by the MEC for KZN Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo. On reading it was evident that this advert represented a turn around strategy that was well thought through and comprehensive.
We are all aware of the concerns raised about the public health service in the country and more specifically KZN. One of the critical areas covered was staff shortages – nurses and specialists and rather than present an analysis of the whole document I chose to interrogate the key concern ie. shortage of staff. As we all are aware the Department of Health has been battling with public service medical personnel moonlighting, and this has been a nightmare moreso because there was this untested threat that if pushed, specialist consultants would resign and move to the private sector. Out of simple fear that this could be an eventuality, the department took a soft approach. Every attempt by the department to monitor staff and their fraudulent claims for overtime was met with a similar response. This is plain and simple blackmail and the oncology crisis speaks to that.
In some of the public hospitals in the eThekwini region there are more that the basic number of specialists and yet in the rural areas there’s a serious shortage as many of these specialists do not want to serve in rural hospitals. A forced redistribution would immediately resolve the rural dilemma.
Why do medical personnel resist any form of monitoring i.e. biometric/swipe card access to their working place where movement will be monitored, and why has the Department of Health conducted a pilot study at the Albert Luthuli Hospital against all protests?
The MEC’s hand needs to be strengthened and the CEOs of hospitals need to wake up and do what CEOs need to do, and that is manage.
*Letter shortened – Editor
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