DA calls for urgent SIU probe into KZN hospital CEO’s R700 000 (and counting) overtime bill

Democratic Alliance media statement by Dr Imran Keeka, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Health

 

DA calls for urgent SIU probe into KZN hospital CEO’s R700 000 (and counting) overtime bill

 

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in KwaZulu-Natal has written to the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) (view here) to call for a full-scale probe into overtime payments to Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) at KwaZulu-Natal hospitals following the shock discovery that Ngwelezana Hospital CEO, Dr Bright Madlala has been paid more than R700 000 for overtime at Queen Nandi hospital since January 2017.

The information, which forms the basis of a parliamentary reply (view here) by KZN Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo to questions posed by the DA.

The overtime payment is in addition to his annual gross salary which exceeds R1.5 million per annum. Dr Madlala has also been paid in excess of R46 000 per month in overtime since August last year. This despite conducting only two overtime calls in May 2018 according to a DA source. Staff have also claimed that he does not always conduct calls in Casualty and often sees patients from his home. Meanwhile, a further reply to the DA (view here) also shows that the CEO at Greys Hospital in Pietermaritzburg is currently earning in the region of R30 000 per month just for overtime over and above a R1 289m salary per annum.

The DA is extremely concerned by these findings. They come at a time when KZN’s Department of Health (DoH) is experiencing a financial meltdown that has severely hindered the employment of doctors, the purchase of critical medical equipment and the ability to adequately repair dilapidated infrastructure.

The R46 000 paid each month to Madlala is also money that could have paid the basic salaries of two part-time Medical Officers – or one salary of a junior doctor with overtime. And so the questions that must be asked is, why is MEC Dhlomo turning a blind eye to such wasteful expenditure?  And do the national Health Minister , KZN’s Premier and the provincial Treasury know about this massive ongoing fruitless expenditure which ultimately requires more and more funds to be diverted to KwaZulu-Natal’s Department of Health?

According to the MEC’s reply, Dr Madlala assumed the position of fulltime CEO at Ngwelezana hospital on 1 August 2017. His letter of appointment stated that he could not perform his overtime at this Hospital and needed to do so at another institution in order to avoid a conflict of interest. From August 2017 he performed overtime at the then Lower Umfolozi War Memorial Regional Hospital (now Queen Nandi Regional Hospital) as a medical officer in the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department.

It is very possible that whatever conflict of interest the Department seeks to avoid has not been minimised because of the inextricable relationship of the two facilities. The MEC’s reply also shows that there are currently 19 medical officers within Queen Nandi’s ObGyn department with only three vacant posts in this field. While the shortage exists, it is worse at many other facilities which begs the question – why is Dr Madlala being given overtime work instead of the vacancies being filled with full time staff?

In terms of overtime policy within the country’s public hospitals, the continued need for overtime should be reviewed when vacant post are filled as this is expected to reduce the need for such. Unless the MEC can demonstrate that every effort has been made to do recruit staff at Queen Nandi’s ObyGyn Department then this is a case of Dr Madlala abusing his position for self-gain – with the MEC’s stamp of approval.

In terms of Dr Madlala’s overtime, the DA expects answers from the MEC with regard to the following;

  •  According to DOH policy, CEO’s must do overtime on Fridays during the day, Saturday day and night and Sundays during the day only. Is this the case for Dr Madlala?
  • Was this overtime approved by the DDG and recommended by the DM?
  • Did Queen Nandi hospital advertise for the recruitment of MO’s. If so, when?
  • What was the response to this recruitment process?
  • Did the outcome of this recruitment exercise then require that Dr Madlala perform overtime? If so, for how much longer will he continue with overtime work?

If all reasonable caution was not applied to get medical officers to work at Queen Nandi to afford better value from money by the MEC and his Department and if they then chose to employ Madlala then this constitutes wasteful and fruitless expenditure in terms of the PFMA and the DA will hold him liable for this.

In paying Dr Madlala R46 000 for just two overtime calls, the MEC and his officials would also have directly contravened Department of Public service and Administration (DPSA) Code of Conduct which requires that officials are honest and accountable in dealing with public funds and use state resources effectively and efficiently and only for authorised purposes. How could the MEC approve overtime of this particular CEO and how could overtime be approved for any others under such circumstances?

The DA has referred this matter to the SIU for further investigation. It is essential that fraud, corruption and fruitless expenditure be stopped if we want our health system to work at all. The very people entrusted to take care of taxpayers’ money are in fact lining their own pockets with wanton disregard for service delivery and the suffering of patients, particularly those in rural areas.

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