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Strike threat at health centres


'There has been a total collapse of management at Robert Sobukwe hospital'

Nehawu branch secretary Moleme Moleme. Picture: Danie van der Lith

THE NATIONAL Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (nehawu) has threatened to withdraw labour from health facilities in the Northern Cape and will request the Public Service Commission and the Public Protector to investigate the “continuous rot” at the provincial Department of Health.

The union has also called for lifestyle audits to be conducted on all senior managers at the department, especially those occupying positions in finance and supply chain management.

“The current management leaves much to be desired, as they preside over a department that is low in morale and are unable to turn the department around. The head of department (HOD) and chief executive officer (CEO) must have a clinical background, they should not be dumped here at Health.”

In a memorandum dated January 28, it was reported that the “fiscal mess” at the department was the result of alleged acts of corruption that have never been investigated.

“The department must conduct a forensic investigation to unravel networks and benefactors of corruption. We are also concerned about the procurement process involving the new Kimberley mental health hospital.”

The union stated that it was “disappointed in the failure” of the premier, the MEC for Health and the HOD to resolve many issues that had been raised.

“There has been a total collapse of management at Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital – on January 21 emergency services workers had no access to water for eight hours or working ablution facilities. The horrendous treatment of patients is an infringement of their rights. Doctors, nurses and ancillary staff are opting to work in the private sector. There is no retention strategy for much-needed skills.”

Nehawu branch chairperson Thembisa Wababa pointed out that it made no sense that the department was spending R20 million per annum to lease computers and laptops.

“We are not aware of any tenders that were advertised. It would be more cost effective to purchase the computers.”

Nehawu branch secretary Moleme Moleme similarly questioned the appointment of a private events management company to organise internal events including awards ceremonies.

“This is while there is a capable communications unit that has been organising these events for several years. The department has a functional IT and health promotion unit. These units are rendered redundant as a result of the duplication of services.”

He also stated that staff who were appointed onto the medico-legal team had been deployed to the supply chain management and finance units of the department.

“Is it coincidental that they are being transferred to these units shortly before a R40 million tender will be going out for the purchase of furniture and equipment for the new Kimberley mental health hospital?

“We would also like to know how the R10 million that was received for the operationalisation of the new mental hospital was spent.”

Nehawu is also calling for the Defensor security contract to be cancelled and for security services to be insourced.

The union said that there had been an increase in the theft of staff member’s personal belongings as well as hospital equipment.

It also pointed out the shortage of staff, lack of skills development and upgrading of staff, the need to insource services and the alleged exploitation of workers.

The spokesperson for the Northern Cape Department of Health, Lulu Mxekezo, said they had not received the memorandum from Nehawu.

“The department has filled vacant funded posts through human resource processes including community service and intern posts and others are filled as they are vacated.”

She added that the department continued to address unfavourable working conditions for health care workers as soon as they were identified.

“The department is also trying ways to eliminate such issues so that employees work in a conducive environment for maximum productivity. The departmental policy on retention of human resources is implemented to retain staff members.”

Mxekezo stated that the department was satisfied with the company providing security services at health facilities.

“There has not been an increase in theft, but successes have been realised when such incidents are reported to authorities, in collaboration with law enforcement agencies.

“The medico-legal unit is still operational. All other issues that are internal and operational are dealt with through existing internal processes.”