POLOKWANE – These findings followed the investigative hearings into the status of health facilities in Limpopo and were announced by SAHRC Commissioner, Victor Mavhidhula, during a press conference on Tuesday.
The hearings took place from 3 June to 10 June and were attended by the department, the national Department of Health, three trade unions and other stakeholders. The press was not allowed at the meetings, except for one day when unions addressed the commission. The commission did oversight visits at six identified hospitals and thereafter created a platform for people who wanted to give information in the form of investigative hearings.
The overspend allegedly is due to accruals building up in the last five years.
The commission heard tales of woes regarding shortages of medicines, dereliction of duties, infrastructure collapse, broken promises about the rebuilding of hospitals, hospitals built with mud bricks and donations not yet spent, air conditioning systems not working giving rise to unhygienic conditions in hospitals, unpaid performance bonuses and pay progression, a shortage of space for filing systems in hospitals to order files, dysfunctional laundry facilities, expired medication given to a patient, rotten expired food fed to patients, vacancies of up to 80% of specialists and hospitals trying to function on 47% to 50% of vacancies only being filled. Mavhidhula expressed concern about conditions at hospitals and said the department is not like all other departments where vacancies can be frozen and not filled, as it must deliver services.
“Problems with service delivery can be expected with vacancy rates of 47%.”
Mavhidhula said too many positions are filled by acting personnel who are not even compensated for their services and who, in many instances, are not trained to do their job or in prescripts regulating their functions.
Despite the shortage of staff, overtime is also limited to 30% of claimants’ salaries, creating many problems.
If personnel in a radiography unit’s overtime has run out, there may not be anybody to take X-rays in case of accidents, and patients will have to wait until the next day before any treatment can be given. Crucial service delivery is delayed.
He said the commission will see how best they can interact with both Treasury and the department as almost R2 billion was needed to address the problem. Several recommendations would be made in the final report to be handed to the department. Mavhidhula said he was relieved the national department is to intervene in three hospitals and added the hearings were necessary for all stakeholders, and also the public, to know more about the challenges faced by health facilities.