Home News CCMA orders Sol Plaatje University to pay up after health officer snubbed

CCMA orders Sol Plaatje University to pay up after health officer snubbed

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Sol Plaatje University has been ordered to pay a senior primary health officer compensation of R128,521.80 for an unfair labour practice.

Sol Plaatje University. File picture: Danie van der Lith

SOL PLAATJE University (SPU) has been ordered to pay a senior primary health officer, sister Danelia McCarthy, compensation to the amount of R128,521.80 for an unfair labour practice.

If the university fails to pay by August 15, interest at a rate of 10.5 percent will be charged.

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) commissioner, Shiraaz Osman, who issued the award on July 19, indicated that the appointed clinic manager did not meet the requirements as she did not possess a dispensing licence.

“This is a flagrant disregard of the university’s recruitment policy.”

It is believed that the clinic manager has since left the employment of the university.

McCarthy, who started up the health and wellness centre and acquired her site-specific dispensation for the campus, was shortlisted for the position of clinic manager but was not selected, despite acting in this position for over a year.

After lodging a grievance against the appointed manager, for dispensing medication to students without a dispensing licence, McCarthy was charged for insubordination and not carrying out the orders of her immediate supervisor.

McCarthy resigned from SPU on May 3, where it was cited that she was unable to continue working in a “hostile and toxic work environment”.

Osman stated that McCarthy was probably the most suitable candidate for the position as neither her qualifications or experience were in dispute.

He added that McCarthy was the only candidate in possession of a dispensing licence and a primary health nursing care licence.

Osman pointed out that McCarthy would have accepted a lower salary had she been appointed as the manager of health services.

“She was prepared to take a drop in salary of R11,585.34, which implies to me that she was not after any monetary gain, but the position in itself. Her persistence was to prove the unfairness in the process which unfolded in the interview of the disputed position.”

Osman found that the employer had abused its relationship with McCarthy and had failed to apply the interview process “judiciously”.

“SPU was of the view that the appointed candidate could have obtained a dispensing licence once the position was filled.”

He pointed out that without a dispensing licence, the appointed manager did not have the authority to consult, dispense and order medication.

“None of the other applicants who were shortlisted met the criteria of having a dispensing licence. Therefore the shortlisting process was indeed irregular.”

Osman indicated that the clinic manager could open herself up to litigation if the wrong medication was prescribed by an unauthorised person.

“She could not carry out these tasks without McCarthy’s assistance, who was qualified and trusted to carry out such a task.”

He also noted that the chairperson of the interview panel had failed to recuse herself although McCarthy had lodged a complaint against her prior to the interview.

“She added that the chief operations officer and the chief executive officer found that there was no need for her to recuse herself. As logic would suggest an applicant would further exacerbate her chances of non-appointment as it could agitate the chairperson and the panel.”

Osman added that the chairperson of the interview panel failed to give a time frame as to when the process would conclude.

“She did not specify who would carry out these tasks in the interim as McCarthy had dispensed and ordered the medication for the facility.”

According to anonymous complaints that were sent by concerned patients to the health ombudsman, the South African Nursing Council (SANC) and the public protector, students’ lives were endangered when they were diagnosed and prescribed medication by nurses without dispensing licences since 2022.

“The university management is aware of this misconduct, but nothing is being done.”

It was indicated in correspondence that one of the nurses who dispensed without a dispensing licence was advised to resign by the university management.

“There is further evidence that the managers responsible for the approval of the unlawful appointment and practice of this nursing practitioner are trying to cover up these transgressions to ensure that these managers escape accountability. This included advice from the legal office to continue with this unlawful appointment and practice.

“It is a shame that none of the regulatory authorities have launched an official investigation into this serious allegation. It appears that students’ lives are not important,” the e-mails stated.

The health ombudsman this week indicated that they had closed their investigation and advised that the complaint be referred to the SANC.

SANC CEO and registrar Professor Ntombifikile Mtshali indicated that the professional practice’s preliminary investigation section had not received such a complaint.

He stated that in terms of the nursing regulations, nursing practitioners were only permitted to dispense medication if they were in possession of a dispensing qualification and were authorised to dispense by the director-general after consultation with the South African Pharmacy Council.

The public protector public representative in the Northern Cape, Mlungisi Khanya, yesterday confirmed that their office was investigating the appointment of one of the university’s staff.

“Our office has noted the seriousness of this complaint and is doing its best to ensure that the matter is thoroughly investigated.”

The director for institutional advancement in the office of the vice-chancellor at SPU, Qondakele Sompondo, said the university was in the process of perusing the CCMA award with a view “to determine the best way forward”.

“In the meantime, the university is not in a position to confirm or deny any of the allegations, as any commentary may potentially infringe on the rights of third parties.”

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