Liv­ing­stone big shots put on spe­cial leave

Hospi­tal’s en­tire top man­age­ment un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion

The Herald (South Africa) - - Front Page - Estelle El­lis el­lise@ti­soblack­star.co.za

The en­tire top man­age­ment of Liv­ing­stone Hospi­tal has been placed on spe­cial leave pend­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the al­leged theft of pa­tient food, a miss­ing com­puter and lap­tops, fraud­u­lent loans and pay­outs, and the qual­ity of the se­cu­rity ser­vices at the hospi­tal.

Those af­fected are:

● CEO Thu­lane Madon­sela, who was head­hunted for the po­si­tion three years ago;

● Hu­man re­sources di­rec­tor Vic­tor Tobo;

● Head of clin­i­cal ser­vices Dr Mo­jalefa Maseloa;

● Nurs­ing man­ager Ronel du Preez;

● Fi­nance di­rec­tor Mike Byrnes;

● The di­rec­tor of soft ser­vices – which in­cludes cater­ing, clean­ing, land­scap­ing, park­ing, pest con­trol and se­cu­rity – Mce­bisi Gqotana; and

● The head of in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy, Ul­lyn­dyss Maloy.

In a let­ter signed by East­ern Cape health depart­ment su­per­in­ten­dent Dr Tho­bile Mben­gashe, sent on Wed­nes­day, Mben­gashe says he has agreed to grant all the man­agers spe­cial leave for the du­ra­tion of the foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“Please be ad­vised that this de­ci­sion will be re­viewed as soon as the pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­port is avail­able.

“Fur­ther, you are di­rected to make your­selves avail­able for con­sul­ta­tion with the in­ves­ti­ga­tors when re­quired to do so dur­ing work­ing hours,” he says.

Only Byrnes and Madon­sela re­sponded to a re­quest for com­ment, with both of them say­ing: “This me­dia query should be re­ferred to the pro­vin­cial of­fice.”

All of the oth­ers placed on spe­cial leave read mes­sages sent to them via What­sApp, but did not re­spond.

They also did not an­swer phone calls.

Ac­cord­ing to an of­fi­cial agenda for a labour fo­rum meet­ing be­tween Mben­gashe and union mem­bers – held at Liv­ing­stone Hospi­tal on Tues­day – the is­sues dis­cussed in­cluded:

● An in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the dis­ap­pear­ance of a state com­puter and lap­tops at Liv­ing­stone Hospi­tal be­tween 2015 and 2018;

● Al­leged ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in the pay­out of an early re­tire­ment pack­age to an un­named se­nior of­fi­cial;

● The re­in­state­ment of Du Preez as nurs­ing man­ager. The agenda does not in­di­cate what this re­lated to;

● Al­le­ga­tions of fraud and cor­rup­tion in the pay­ment of a re­set­tle­ment al­lowance for a se­nior of­fi­cial who was liv­ing in Port El­iz­a­beth. Again, the of­fi­cial was not named;

● Al­le­ga­tions that over­time was paid to un­named se­nior man­agers (man­agers are not en­ti­tled to over­time);

● A loan made to an un­named se­nior man­ager by the pre­vi­ous hospi­tal board;

● Hous­ing al­lo­cated to Madon­sela;

● An in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the hospi­tal se­cu­rity provider and the pro­vi­sion of al­leged in­fe­rior se­cu­rity ser­vices; and

● An in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­le­ga­tions that Madon­sela was re­ceiv­ing weekly gro­ceries from stock meant for pa­tient food.

Mafoko Se­cu­rity Pa­trols di­rec­tor-gen­eral Lebo Nare said it was not aware of the probe.

“Nei­ther have we been con­tacted by any govern­ment en­tity and/or per­sons in the East­ern Cape govern­ment and/or Liv­ing­stone Hospi­tal with a com­plaint re­gard­ing the qual­ity of ser­vices that we ren­der to Liv­ing­stone.

“We do, how­ever, note with deep con­cern that there has been a spike in the num­ber of ar­rests of Liv­ing­stone Hospi­tal staff, who were de­tained by Mafoko Se­cu­rity per­son­nel for var­i­ous acts of theft in the last five months,” Nare said.

“There were a to­tal of 97 cases against var­i­ous staff mem­bers, rang­ing from gen­eral as­sis­tants to nurses.

“The mat­ter has been raised with the hospi­tal’s se­cu­rity man­ager and es­ca­lated to the pro­vin­cial govern­ment.

“We there­fore find it com­i­cal that an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the qual­ity of our ser­vices would be in ques­tion fol­low­ing so many ar­rests in such a short pe­riod.”

The de­ci­sion by Mben­gashe fol­lows more than a week of dis­rup­tive protest ac­tion at the hospi­tal, with the three big unions – Denosa, Ne­hawu and Hospersa – join­ing forces.

They were also joined by the South African Se­cu­rity and Pro­tec­tion Union.

There has been a heavy po­lice pres­ence at the hospi­tal since Wed­nes­day last week.

East­ern Cape health act­ing deputy di­rec­tor-gen­eral Dr Litha Mati­wane and the man­ager for fraud man­age­ment, Vuyani Xinwa, were chased away from the hospi­tal last week af­ter they were sent to ad­dress the con­cerns of union mem­bers.

The unions de­manded to see Mben­gashe and sat down with him on Tues­day af­ter the depart­ment agreed to with­draw its ap­pli­ca­tion for an ur­gent in­ter­dict against the protest­ing work­ers.

Madon­sela and Mben­gashe were seen ear­lier this week leav­ing the hospi­tal with a po­lice es­cort. Un­happy Ne­hawu mem­bers con­tin­ued their protest on Thurs­day, de­mand­ing that Madon­sela and Maseloa be sus­pended with­out pay.

Union spokesper­son Miki Jaceni said he un­der­stood that pre­lim­i­nary ac­tion had been taken by Mben­gashe but he was on his way to Bhisho to meet him to dis­cuss the is­sue.

“We un­der­stand sus­pen­sion is still on the cards,” he said.

Treat­ment Ac­tion Cam­paign deputy chair Them­bisile Nogam­pula said he was meant to meet hospi­tal man­age­ment this week, but his ap­point­ment had been can­celled due to the un­sta­ble sit­u­a­tion at the hospi­tal.

East­ern Cape health depart­ment spokesper­son Lwandile Sicwet­sha did not re­spond to sev­eral sets of de­tailed ques­tions about the lat­est de­vel­op­ments sent via e-mail and What­sApp, apart from a terse com­ment on Mon­day that “there is still noth­ing to con­firm about al­leged sus­pen­sion”.

He did not re­spond to any ques­tions sent on Thurs­day.

The Liv­ing­stone Hospi­tal board, chaired by Pula Lon­ake, also did not re­spond to de­tailed ques­tions about both the al­leged loan from the board or its over­sight at the hospi­tal.

At­tempts since Septem­ber to get an­swers from the board on its over­sight func­tions, meet­ings and work have failed to elicit a re­sponse.

IS­SUES RAISED: The of­fi­cial agenda for a labour fo­rum meet­ing PROVINICIAL CHIEF: East­ern Cape health depart­ment su­per­in­ten­dent Dr Tho­bile Mben­gashe LEAVE NO­TICE: The let­ter signed by health depart­ment su­per­in­ten­dent Dr Tho­bile Mben­gashe

Pic­ture: GOOGLE MAPS

TROU­BLED FA­CIL­ITY: Liv­ing­stone Hospi­tal

HOSPI­TAL BOSS: Liv­ing­stone Hospi­tal CEO Thu­lane Madon­sela has been at the helm for three years

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