Tše­pong hits back at crit­ics

Sunday Express - - FRONT PAGE - Pas­cali­nah Kabi

QUEEN ’ Mamo­hato Me­mo­rial Hos­pi­tal (QMMH) man­age­ment say the pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship (PPP) with the gov­ern­ment is cost­ing more than ini­tially en­vis­aged be­cause the hos­pi­tal is serv­ing more pa­tients than the agreed num­ber.

Tše­pong, as the hos­pi­tal is widely known, has also dis­pelled al­le­ga­tions of fleec­ing the gov­ern­ment, say­ing there is an agreed ex­pen­di­ture for­mula in the part­ner­ship which is di­rectly linked to the num­ber of pa­tients.

The in­sti­tu­tion was opened in Oc­to­ber 2011 to re­place Queen Elizabeth II Hos­pi­tal as the coun­try’s ma­jor re­fer­ral health­care fa­cil­ity.

South African health­care group, Net­care, formed a con­sor­tium with lo­cal com­pa­nies, and in Oc­to­ber 2008 an 18-year PPP agree­ment was signed be­tween the gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho and the new com­pany, Tše­pong.

How­ever, the hos­pi­tal has been un­der fire for al­legedly fleec­ing the gov­ern­ment and flout­ing the tenets of the agree­ment. Its op­er­a­tions have also been hamstrung by a long-drawn go-slow by nurses who are miffed for be­ing over­looked in salary in­cre­ments given to phar­ma­cists and other staff. Health Min­is­ter Nya­pane Kaya (pic

tured), stated ear­lier this year that the gov­ern­ment wanted out of what he de- scribed as a lop­sided con­tract. The min­is­ter said the hos­pi­tal could not jus­tify be­ing al­lo­cated M549 444 mil­lion from the M2.5 bil­lion meant for the health sec­tor while fail­ing to treat can­cer pa­tients or pro­vid­ing dial­y­sis ser­vices.

The hos­pi­tal refers can­cer pa­tients to Free State hos­pi­tals in South Africa at the gov­ern­ment’s ex­pense.

Ear­lier this year, a hu­man rights or­gan­i­sa­tion, Count­down Di­a­logue Plat­form (CODIP), called for an investigation into the hos­pi­tal’s op­er­a­tions say­ing it had be­come a law unto it­self.

CODIP also called for a stake­hold­ers’ fo­rum to find an al­ter­na­tive to the PPP agree­ment which it said favoured the con­sor­tium.

“Gov­ern­ment must be seen to be tak­ing the nec­es­sary steps to re­duce wastage of na­tional re­sources. This PPP agree­ment is noth­ing but a flood­gate within which pub­lic re­sources are looted to en­rich share­hold­ers of Net­care and oth­ers,” CODIP stated.

In re­sponse to the al­le­ga­tions, QMMH act­ing Pub­lic Re­la­tions Of­fi­cer, ‘Man­thako Ra­supu, said it was not true that the agree­ment favoured the Tše­pong con­sor­tium at the ex­pense of the gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho.

“It does not favour any of the two par­ties. The gov­ern­ment was clear on its af­ford­abil­ity limit and it de­signed the project by fix­ing the an­nual pay­ment to Tše­pong over the con­tract pe­riod,” she said.

“Pay­ments are gov­erned by an agreed for­mula aimed at en­sur­ing that the gov­ern­ment’ ex­pen­di­ture on this project would be pre­dictable and af­ford­able.

“The for­mula is linked to a fixed num­ber of pa­tients, which un­for­tu­nately have been ex­ceeded over sev­eral years. This is one of the rea­sons that the pre­dicted value was ex­ceeded.”

On al­le­ga­tions that the hos­pi­tal’s man­age­ment did as they pleased, Ms Ra­supu said the agree­ment had mon­i­tor­ing mech­a­nisms which -- if not ad­hered to -- would re­sult in the gov­ern­ment im­pos­ing penal­ties on Tše­pong.

She said ei­ther of the two par­ties were free to ter­mi­nate the con­tract at any point, adding that they would co­op­er­ate with any for­mal in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the hospi- tal. Asked if it was true that the hos­pi­tal in­creased the salaries of phar­ma­cists and pharma-tech­ni­cians by be­tween M2 000 and M5 000, while ex­clud­ing other staffers like nurses, Ms Ra­supu said: “We con­firm that there was an in­crease for phar­macy tech­ni­cians to ad­dress the risk of at­tri­tion of a scarce skill and a sub­se­quent in­crease to all staff who met a spe­cific cri­te­ria. The de­tails of the cri­te­ria are an in­ter­nal mat­ter.” She also re­futed the al­le­ga­tion that the hos­pi­tal was flout­ing Le­sotho’s labour laws, adding that they were com­mit­ted to ful­fil their man­date. “We are com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing the na­tion with the qual­ity health care ser­vices it de­serves. We are com­mit­ted as a team (staff and man­age­ment) to achieve this,” Ms Ra­supu added.

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