by Andrew Louw – DA Northern Cape Premier Candidate
Date: 30 October 2018
The Democratic Alliance in the Northern Cape calls on the MEC of Health, Fufe Makatong, to speed up the implementation of the provincial HR plan as a matter of urgency. Our people cannot wait three years for staff appointments when they need medical care and when communities need job opportunities.
As part of my Listening Tour, I have conducted a number of oversight inspections to medical facilities in the province this month. Hospitals have now become the Northern Cape’s new Hollywood, with staff being appointed in acting positions – if at all. Communities are tired of empty promises, tired of poverty and desperate for a change which can ensure access to basic services. By refusing to appoint staff at hospitals, the failing ANC is undermining the delivery of quality health services to our people.
At the Dr. Harry Surtie Hospital in Upington, for example, acting positions include critical posts such as the CEO and other senior management positions. The serious lack of staff in crucial positions, ranging from clinical to surgical staff, has resulted in only two-thirds of the hospital’s beds being used. While it has a gazetted capacity of 327 beds, it only operates with 228. The hospital intends to open a postnatal ward and to expand its surgical ward once it can appoint more staff. Since it is the only hospital in the region which deals with births, a postnatal ward is urgently needed.
This example speaks to a greater problem with poor planning in the province. We see similar challenges with the operationalization of the hospital in De Aar and the ongoing delays with the opening of the psychiatric hospital in Kimberley. Indeed, yet another Mental Health Awareness Month has come and gone without our people being given access to psychiatric care.
If staff are overworked, it creates a risk for an increase in medico-legal claims. The department is already on the hook for contingent liabilities of R1.5 billion and, considering the precarious fiscal position of the province, we cannot afford to pay for the government’s failure to provide adequate staff to medical facilities.
We politely remind the MEC not to hide the moratorium on employment in the public sector as an excuse for failing to deliver services to people. The moratorium is intended to trim the public wage bill and to streamline the efficiency of back-office services, not to rob people of access to medical care by failing to appoint nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists and doctors. You can get rid of the lazy administrator who cannot be bothered to ensure that ambulance licenses are renewed on time and protect dedicated medical practitioners, like the nurse from Straussburg who will get into her own private vehicle and travel at her own expense to ensure that there are medicines for her patients.
The failing ANC-government does not prioritise the needs of our people. Only change under a DA-led government can ensure that the delivery of basic services to our people will be sped up.
DA Northern Cape Premier Candidate
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