Home News ’Turnaround strategy’ aims to improve health services at city hospital

’Turnaround strategy’ aims to improve health services at city hospital


Northern Cape MEC for Health Maruping Lekwene briefed the media on the turnaround strategy to strengthen the delivery of health-care services in the Province.

RMSH CEO Dr Alastair Kantani, Health MEC Maruping Lekwene and acting head of department Riaan Strydom. Picture: Boipelo Mere

“WE ARE trying. I think we are on the right track although it will take some time, but we are confident.”

Those were the remarks by the Northern Cape MEC for Health, Maruping Lekwene, when he briefed the media on the turnaround strategy to strengthen the delivery of health-care services in the Province at Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital (RMSH) on Thursday.

Lekwene was joined by RMSH CEO Dr Alastair Kantani and the acting head of department, Riaan Strydom.

The briefing followed concerns raised by members of the community regarding poor health-care services in the Province.

RMSH is the only tertiary hospital in the Nortehrn Cape, providing specialised services to the entire Province.

Lekwene said that health care is quite a challenging sector and that the Northern Cape is no exception.

“We don’t report our challenges, there are so many. We just issue reports of what we have done as a facility. The success stories,” said the MEC.

“We must also thank our health-care practitioners for the work they have done.

“This facility towed the Province for a very long time under tremendously fragile conditions, but our people are being serviced.

“We pride ourselves that 87% of the people in this Province get their health-care services from public facilities.”

The Provincial Hospital Services was allocated a budget of R443,637 million from the equitable share with an additional amount of R420,514 from the National Tertiary Grant.

The bulk of the budget is consumed by compensation of employees, which translates to 70% of the budget. The remaining 30% is for standing commitments to render health-care services.

Lekwene highlighted that the Province has the highest recovery rate of Covid-19 patients in the country.

He said the department tries its best, regardless of the fact that the budget did not grow at the same pace as the services expected to be rendered.

He pointed out that RMSH is gazetted for 604 beds with a total of 32 specialities and employs just over 1,600 personnel.

Of the personnel, 195 are medical doctors, 596 are nurses and 383 are allied health professionals and pharmacists.

Lekwene elaborated that there are more than 110,000 outpatient appointments recorded and 50,000 accident and emergency attendances every year.

“There are 17 out-patient clinics servicing 5,420 patients per month. The hospital also records 21,000 patient admissions to the wards annually. The average length of stay currently stands at eight days,” said Lekwene.

“In terms of maternity cases, the hospital delivers more than 3,800 babies. More than 650 babies, children and adults are admitted each year to the intensive care units.

“As part of the radiology services, the facility offers computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.

“We have mentioned that the development nodes and prospective development corridors require that we plan the health services, including the human resources required by the health system,” added the MEC. “This is essential for the development of the health system.”

According to Lekwene, the department is currently undertaking a comprehensive review of the health service delivery model as part of “resetting” the health system.

He said the department is introducing a new service focusing on optometry services.

“The hospital is in the process of establishing a vision centre and optic laboratory for spectacles to be made on site. This will be the second vision centre set up in the Northern Cape.

“Theatre services will be increased over the next three months by operationalising an additional theatre in the Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital. This will increase theatre output and decrease the waiting times and backlog.

“We do so mindful of the fact that about 87% of the population of the Northern Cape is uninsured and depends exclusively on public health care.”

The facility has introduced radiation oncology services through a partnership with Icon oncology services based at Lenmed hospital in the last three years.

A total of 251 patients were scanned and 183 patients have successfully completed treatment.

The MEC explained that many of these patients presented at an advanced stage of cancer.

He made a commitment for the establishment of a radiation oncology centre, which will be built as part of the department’s strategy to in-source the service.

The centre will increase the accessibility to radiotherapy services in the Province and provide convenience and shorten the waiting period for treatment.

He said the hospital prides itself on the established partnership with the Smile Foundation to operate on children with cleft lip and/or palate birth defects, of which 120 children have benefited from this partnership since 2017.

The institution also prides itself for having attracted five specialists in the internal medicine, orthopaedics, radiology and obstetrics and gynaecology disciplines.

“In addition, five medical specialists have been appointed on contract as a short-term strategy, while permanent specialists are being trained via the Registrar programme (ear, nose and throat; maxillo-facial; paediatrics; and obstetrics and gynaecology).

“Over and above these appointments, we have appointed in the last few months in excess of 160 staff for the tertiary hospital, mainly consisting of doctors, nurses and allied health personnel.

“Preliminary work is being undertaken to establish a district hospital in the Sol Plaatje Municipality. The planning includes mental health wards at the old West End Hospital, Galeshewe Day Hospital and Harmony Home, to be complexed into one facility.”

Among the achievements highlighted by Lekwene was the acquisition of some key clinical equipment including the optical coherence tomography (OCT), endoscope and additional equipment for theatre radiology and radiotherapy services.

He highlighted that lifts have been delivered and the installation and replacement process has started on the four lifts at the facility.

Regarding the plan for continuous maintenance and replacement processes, Lekwene elaborated that one of the steam generators in the laundry services will be operational within three weeks.

“AN additional generator for block A as part of the electrical back-up system is expected to be delivered in about three weeks’ time,” he said.

The MEC said the aim is to improve the theatre services in order to respond to the backlog of elective surgeries with appointments of additional nurses.

He added that an advert is out for the appointment of non-clinical support staff.

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