“NDLOVU CARE GROUP RIPPED US OFF”

Lim­popo Depart­ment of Health says Ndlovu has used R14 mil­lion sub­sidy to over­pay staff It says the health care NGO charges ex­or­bi­tant “rental” fees and fails to ac­count for wa­ter bills Polok­wane High Court grants depart­ment per­mis­sion to ter­mi­nate Ndlov

African Times - - Front Page - PIET RAMPEDI

Health care NGO Ndlovu Care Group pays its staff ex­or­bi­tant salaries, charges the Lim­popo Depart­ment of Health hun­dreds of thou­sands of rands in rental fees and fails to ac­count for wa­ter bills.

In ad­di­tion, it pro­vides HIV/Aids and TB ser­vices to peo­ple who re­side out­side its catch­ment area in Sekhukhune, thus de­feat­ing its pur­pose and caus­ing high de­faulter rate.

This is ac­cord­ing to an in­ter­nal memo sent to Health Min­is­ter Dr Aaron Mot­soaledi in which the Lim­popo Depart­ment of Health sought per­mis­sion to trans­fer thou­sands of pa­tients from Ndlovu’s fa­cil­ity in Moutse Town­ship out­side Dan­nil­ton last month.

The non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion, owned by a cer­tain Dr Tem­ple­ton, has been of­fer­ing TB and anti-retro­vi­ral treat­ment (ART) to 3 500 pa­tients in the re­gion on be­half of the Lim­popo gov­ern­ment since 2002.

In terms of a three-year mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing (MOU) en­tered into be­tween the two par­ties dur­ing the 2014/2015 fi­nan­cial year, the pro­vin­cial Depart­ment of Health would pay Ndlovu R14 mil­lion a year to ren­der HIV/Aids and TB ser­vices to the res­i­dents of Danil­ton in Sekhukhune and Hoed­spruit in the Maru­leng Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, re­spec­tively.

The depart­ment is also re­spon­si­ble for Na­tional Health Lab­o­ra­tory Ser­vice (NHLS), ART, medicines and op­er­a­tional costs.

How­ever, the memo sent to Mot­soaledi last month says that:

Ndlovu pays its doc­tor a salary of R1.2 mil­lion per year, which is more than twice the an­nual amount of what gov­ern­ment pays its doc­tors;

The NGO pays its pro­fes­sional nurse en­try level salary of up to R420 000 per an­num, while their gov­ern­ment coun­ter­part take home R262 000;

Ndlovu pays a Lay Coun­sel­lor R9 719 per month while gov­ern­ment pays R3 800 for the same skill;

The depart­ment is cov­er­ing “rental” costs of R500 000 per an­num which gov­ern­ment fa­cil­i­ties do not in­cur and it’s the man­date of the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works, not the Depart­ment of Health;

Dur­ing its pre­sen­ta­tion in 2012, Ndlovu in­di­cated that its ma­jor strength is its wellestab­lished in­fra­struc­ture. How­ever, the depart­ment finds it­self hav­ing to pay this large amount to­wards rent;

Lim­popo Depart­ment of Health is cov­er­ing the costs for Ndlovu’s in-house se­cu­rity for a pri­vate en­tity. This is no ac­cept­able;

The Depart­ment is cov­er­ing the costs to­wards both med­i­cal and mu­nic­i­pal waste for a pri­vate en­tity;

The Depart­ment has re­quested mu­nic­i­pal bill to ver­ify the huge amounts of money it is billed wa­ter and elec­tric­ity. To date the wa­ter bill has not been pro­vided.

Ac­cord­ing to the memo, the gov­ern­ment is ef­fec­tively sub­si­diz­ing a pri­vate busi­ness with tax­payer’s money.

“LDOH is con­cerned about these above men­tioned costs which cover day to day run­ning of a pri­vate in­di­vid­ual busi­ness since pa­tients con­sult­ing at NCG are not ex­clu­sively ART pa­tients,” read part of the memo.

“It must be noted that the NCG per­son­nel , un­like their coun­ter­parts within the pub­lic ser­vice, who ren­der 24 hours, 365 days com­pre­hen­sive health care ser­vices while they only ren­der HIV and TB ser­vices for nor­mal of­fice hours but earn­ing more than 2.5 times the salary.”

The Lim­popo High Court heard the dis­pute be­tween the two par­ties, lodged by two pa­tients and an em­ployee of Ndlovu ear­lier this month.

Harriet Nkonyana, El­iz­a­beth Makua and Skhum­buzo Bolo­tini sought an in­ter­dict or­der­ing Health MEC Dr Phophi Ra­math­uba to sus­pend the im­ple­men­ta­tion of her de­ci­sion to trans­fer all HIV/AIDS and TB pa­tients cur­rently served by Ndlovu to pub­lic clin­ics in Moutse and Philadel­phia Hos­pi­tal in Den­nil­ton, and re­store the sta­tus quo be­fore her de­ci­sion.

They also sought an or­der di­rect­ing Ra­math­uba and Dr Tem­ple­ton to con­clude an agree­ment for the con­tin­ued pro­vi­sion and to re­store nor­mal­ity of the ser­vices by Ndlovu to the af­fected par­ties on the same terms and con­di­tions pend­ing a re­view of the de­ci­sion by Ra­math­uba or the pro­vi­sion of a de­tailed costed plan for the ren­der­ing of the same ser­vices in line with ap­proved stan­dards.

The court post­poned the ap­pli­ca­tion in­def­i­nitely but made the fol­low­ing or­ders, amongst oth­ers:

That the depart­ment and Ndlovu sign an MOU reg­u­lat­ing their re­la­tion­ship and the process of trans­fer­ring and de­cant­ing HIV pa­tients be­tween April and June;

Both par­ties pre­pare a joint im­ple­men­ta­tion plan for the trans­fer of pa­tients;

The depart­ment source the as­sis­tance of the Of­fice of the Health Stan­dards Com­pli­ance to as­sess how ap­pro­pri­ate are the fa­cil­i­ties to which pa­tience are to be moved.

The Lim­popo Depart­ment of Health says it has been vin­di­cated by the court judg­ment.

“The depart­ment feels vin­di­cated by the court out­come as it af­firms the stance of the depart­ment on the is­sues of the de­cant­ing of pa­tience from Ndlovu Care Group into Pub­lic Health Fa­cil­i­ties. Once again, the depart­ment wishes to re­it­er­ate that the process will be un­der­taken in a man­ner that does not in any way jeop­ar­dize the pa­tients,” says spokesper­son Neil Shik­wambana.

Dr Tem­ple­ton could not be reached for com­ment. Ndlovu man­age­ment re­fused to speak to African Times, say­ing they need to con­sult their lawyers first.

“We will only be able to speak to you when the court pro­cesses are over and we have spo­ken to our lawyers about it,” says Ndlovu Hu­man Re­sources Di­rec­tor Poppy Mashamaite.

Pic­tures: Le­bo­gang Mak­wela/Visu­alBuzz SA

Health care NGO Ndlovu Care Cen­ter sit­u­ated in Moutse near De­nil­ton in Lim­popo. Depart­ment of Health MEC Phophi Ra­math­uba (right).

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