Clinix Group ex­cited about NHI

CityPress - - News - VUYO MKIZE vuyo.mkize@city­press.co.za

The first black-owned town­ship pri­vate hos­pi­tal group is not only “ex­cited” about the prospect of the Na­tional Health In­sur­ance (NHI) Bill com­ing into ef­fect, but the Clinix Health Group says it is also keen to see where it can bridge the pri­vate-pub­lic gap.

“The NHI is seek­ing to do what we’ve been work­ing to do in the com­mu­nity, which is to bring af­ford­able qual­ity health­care. That prospect for us is pretty ex­cit­ing.

“Govern­ment is also look­ing to pro­cure ser­vices from pri­vate providers, and our fa­cil­i­ties would be the ideal part­ner­ship as they would be able to pro­vide CT scans or Xrays, for ex­am­ple,” Du­mani Kula, deputy chief ex­ec­u­tive of Clinix Health Group, told City Press this week.

The group started out with one hos­pi­tal 26 years ago, at a time when black med­i­cal spe­cial­ists did not have en­vi­ron­ments to prac­tice in, and the sur­round­ing com­mu­nity did not have ac­cess to pri­vate health­care. It has since grown to hav­ing five op­er­at­ing hos­pi­tals spread across Soweto (two), Mafikeng, Vosloorus in Boks­burg and Se­bo­keng in Vereenig­ing.

“By virtue of be­ing in town­ships, our man­date is dif­fer­ent. Our com­mu­ni­ties can’t af­ford ex­or­bi­tant co-pay­ments. Doc­tors in Sand­ton can charge what they want for treat­ing pa­tients, but we have lim­i­ta­tions be­cause we have to con­sider what our peo­ple can af­ford. That also makes it hard for our pro­fes­sion­als, but we have a good set of peo­ple who un­der­stand our vi­sion,” Kula said.

The group em­ploys 150 med­i­cal spe­cial­ists, and while Kula ad­mit­ted it has been a chal­lenge at­tract­ing spe­cial­ists be­cause of the pric­ing is­sues, he said they were look­ing for­ward to in­tro­duc­ing their first in­take of car­di­ol­o­gists at the Dr SK Mat­seke Memo­rial Hos­pi­tal in Diep­kloof this month.

“We have the ba­sic spe­cial­i­ties, but in ar­eas such as Mafikeng, which saw the re­cent col­lapse of its health sys­tem, it has been a strug­gle to re­tain pro­fes­sion­als. We are slowly, in a way, win­ning the battle as 40% of our doc­tors work full time at the hos­pi­tals and the ma­jor­ity have links with the pub­lic sec­tor. One of our drives is to get them to be full time at our fa­cil­i­ties.”

The group – with roughly 45 000 pa­tient ad­mis­sions a year – said what they were against was keep­ing the sta­tus quo of the ail­ing pub­lic health sec­tor the way it cur­rently is.

“As it is, pub­lic health is fall­ing apart and the knee-jerk re­ac­tion from some role play­ers in the pri­vate in­dus­try threat­en­ing to ‘pack and go’ is ir­re­spon­si­ble. I think con­verg­ing re­sources can be a good thing. There’s an op­por­tu­nity for pri­vate providers to ser­vice a much broader pop­u­la­tion, and that was the vi­sion of our founders,” he said.

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