Health MEC, NCOP in stand-off

Al­leged ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties at Khayelit­sha District Hospi­tal range from mis­man­age­ment to staff in­tim­i­da­tion

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - METRO - ASANDA SOKANYILE

THE West­ern Cape health MEC re­jected a call to ac­count to the Na­tional Coun­cil of Provinces (NCOP) on ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties al­leged to have been found at the Khayelit­sha District Hospi­tal (KDH).

MEC No­mafrench Mbombo, KDH chief ex­ec­u­tive Dr An­war Kharwa, Khayelit­sha Eastern Sub­struc­ture Of­fice head Dr Michael Phillips, Chief Di­rec­tor of Metro District Health Ser­vices Dr Gio­vanni Perez and Head of De­part­ment Dr Beth En­gel­brecht de­clined the in­vi­ta­tion, stat­ing that the NCOP had no le­gal right to call them to ac­count on mat­ters re­lat­ing to the hospi­tal.

De­part­ment spokesper­son Mark van der Heever said this was as a re­sult of ad­vice sought from the de­part­ment’s le­gal coun­sel.

“On ad­vice from se­nior le­gal coun­sel, the de­part­ment was ad­vised that it was not ap­pro­pri­ate for it to com­ply with the com­mit­tee’s re­quest at this point, as it is of the view that the com­mit­tee is act­ing out­side of the pow­ers af­forded to it by the con­sti­tu­tion,” he said.

The hear­ing, held as a re­sponse to a pe­ti­tion sub­mit­ted by the Na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion, Health and Al­lied Work­ers Union ( Ne­hawu) and chaired by Du­misani Ximbi, chair­per­son of the NCOP’s se­lect com­mit­tee on pe­ti­tions and se­lect un­der­tak­ings, heard sev­eral ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties rang­ing from hospi­tal mis­man­age­ment to staff in­tim­i­da­tion.

Over re­cent months, the hospi­tal has been hit by re­ports of poor pa­tient care, staff short­ages and fi­nan­cial mis­man­age­ment, where the chief ex­ec­u­tive was awarded R241 266.09 in lieu of un­taken leave for the pe­riod 2011 to 2015.

They also heard of how a nurse, had been dis­missed with­out a for­mal hear­ing for al­legedly ask­ing ques­tions about de­ci­sions made by her su­pe­ri­ors, sex­ual as­sault, mis­use of funds as well as staff short­ages.

Nurse Than­deka Mdekazi al­leged that a col­league had been drugged and sex­u­ally as­saulted by a doc­tor and the mat­ter was re­ported to the po­lice, but the had de­part­ment in­sisted on deal­ing with the mat­ter in­ter­nally.

While the de­part­ment con­firmed the in­ci­dent, it said that it could not en­gage the me­dia on the mat­ter.

Mdekazi also al­leged she had been dis­missed with­out a for­mal hear­ing.

“There was no hear­ing, no min­utes to prove that there was a hear­ing, and when I ap­pealed my dis­missal on Novem­ber 30th, I lost the case on the 11th of De­cem­ber, but found out through the med­i­cal aid scheme that my ben­e­fits had been cut as of Novem­ber 30th.

“I then ques­tioned how it was pos­si­ble for me to lose an ap­peal in De­cem­ber, but my ter­mi­na­tion, ac­cord­ing to the de­part­ment, was sent through to the med­i­cal aid as be­ing the 30th of Novem­ber. It was clear that a de­ci­sion was made be­fore any for­mal en­gage­ments,” she said.

Mdekazi is chal­leng­ing the dis­missal.

While the de­part­ment ac­knowl­edges and con­firms staffing is­sues, Van der Heever dis­pels claims that staff have been bul­lied or con­tracts il­le­gally ter­mi­nated.

“Be­tween Jan­uary and Septem­ber 30, 2018, 26 dis­ci­plinary pro­cesses against staff were ini­ti­ated which ranged from be­ing ab­sent with no rea­son to poor per­for­mance and re­fusal to carry out in­struc­tions. All dis­ci­plinary pro­cesses ad­hered to the labour re­la­tions policies and pro­ce­dures, which al­lows for a fair process that makes pro­vi­sion for ap­peals. Dur­ing this pe­riod, the hospi­tal had 40 ter­mi­na­tions of ser­vices,” said Van der Heever.

Ol­wethu Si­gogo, Ne­hawu re­gional branch man­ager and shop stew­ard at the hospi­tal, said the ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties at KDH ad­versely af­fected the com­mu­nity as a whole. Si­gogo told the hear­ing that “it is the work­ing-class of Khayelit­sha that is suf­fer­ing be­cause of th­ese ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties”.

Ne­hawu now de­mands that a thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion into all its sub­mis­sions be done and the im­age of the hospi­tal be re­stored.

Ximbi and his com­mit­tee could not give a rul­ing or rec­om­men­da­tions on the mat­ter this week and said they would en­sure that the MEC and other of­fi­cials would avail them­selves to ac­count to the com­mit­tee in or­der for an in­formed de­ci­sion is made.

THE Khayelit­sha District hospi­tal.

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