Department’s performance begins and ends with accountability from its MEC

Democratic Alliance media statement by Dr Imran Keeka, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Health

 

Department’s performance begins and ends with accountability from its MEC

 

A look at the KZN Health Department’s finances shows that the books are not balancing.  This is not new. Last year the DA warned about the worsening state of this Department.

 

At the top of the DA’s long list of concerns today is the lack of accountability within what has become a diseased Department under the control of a Doctor who is not able to treat the problem.

Financial mismanagement has led to accruals of almost R1.7billion. Then there are the Treasury charges – while those from previous years are not yet settled – along with the Auditor-General placing the Department on the brink of collapse with a filthy audit outcome. The Department’s last unqualified Audit was in 2006.

Then there is the consequence of a 1% VAT increase and at a minimum, a pressure of R152million and the Zuma-imposed unfunded mandate of Izinduna payments which will cut Health’s budget by almost R23million. This Department is supposed to save lives and as such it should be exempt from this mandate. The money could buy at least 25 new ambulances or be used to mitigate against the shortfall in the HIV/ AIDS grant instead of relying on the equitable share.

 

The outlook in terms of this Department’s budget is dismal;

-      There will be no new clinics or hospitals in KZN. This in spite of promises to the iZinduna and people of Umbumbulu that a hospital will be built

-      There is not enough money to buy either new ambulances or new equipment for them

-      Nor will the 5 926 vacant posts be filled, this in a Department which has the second highest number of vacancies, after Education, in KZN.

In fact, this year will be worse than last year. Treasury’s intervention within the Department was to have been for six months. The DA now hears that it could be for the next two years. The disintegration of this Department did not happen overnight. While senior officials including HOD’s, CFO’s and other officials have come and gone, the political head – who admits to seeing regular reports and who is tasked to with oversight of the administration,  remains the common denominator. Surely accountability should start with him?

 

In terms of Programme 1 there is little or no change with no proper consideration given to the impact of having settled a R421 million medico-legal bill in the last financial year. Unauthorised expenditure has now reached a staggering R7.1billion and it is here and in the accruals, that the massive corruption within the Department is hidden. Supply Chain Management has deteriorated into chaos. This has been happening right under the MEC’s nose yet there is still no consequence or accountability.

There was also no accountability recently when the MEC asked nurses to spy on doctors, more specifically errant doctors at the Church of Scotland Hospital. This backfired spectacularly when staff hit back, labelling him “Mr Perfect”, claiming he knew the problems existed yet tried to lay the blame at their door. That is not accountability. It is subjugation and causes indignation.

 

Perhaps most shocking is the fact that KZN Premier Willies Mchunu has failed to hold the province’s human rights violating Health MEC to account. Until he does so there will be no access to decent levels of health care and there will be no accountability or justice for the 400–odd people who have died as a result of the province’s ongoing oncology crisis. The DA extends its sincere condolences to those families and there are many. The DA’s police enquiry into possibly charging the MEC with Culpable Homicide remains ongoing.

Today, the next available appointment for a mammogram in a KZN state hospital is 2020. Urology patients have to wait seven years for an appointment and psychiatrists are leaving in droves. The Endoscopes at Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital are often broken while CT scanners and Echo devices at Madadeni and other facilities are frequently dysfunctional causing delays.

A Ministerial task team report found that “…in the province the rights of patients to have access to healthcare services are indeed being violated.”  The same report also contains candid expressions of political interference by the MEC and, to quote a journalist recently interviewed on TV, “he pokes his nose where it does not belong”.

 

Accountability also features strongly when we talk about reducing infant and child mortality rates. A response to parliamentary questions by the DA found that 39% of the total of an audited sample of avoidable factors in infant deaths [79% audited] in KZN are directly caused by KZN’s Health Department.

And will there be accountability for violating section 12(2)(a) of the bill of rights which ensures your right to choose the contraception you use? Recently, suppliers were blamed for the shortage of certain injectable contraceptives yet it was under the MEC’s watch that the Department failed to renew the contract.  Who will account for those who may become the victims of backdoor abortionists due to unwanted pregnancies as a result of this shortage?

There has also been no accountability for the lies peddled to the public recently about radiotherapy machines having arrived on our shores when in fact they had not. Nor was there any accountability after the Department claimed that KZN would have full oncology services by August last year. A date which then changed to February then to the end of May and which could become June or July. The MEC has been summoned to testify under oath before the SAHRC for all this and more.  I will meet him there next week Monday, 10:00am.

 

Today the DA also calls on the MEC to stop hiding information and tell us how many babies died as a result of the outbreak of a superbug, Acinobacter, in Stanger Hospital’s neonatal ICU three weeks ago.   We also call for answer around KZN’s ongoing problems within the Forensic pathology services. The DoH acting HOD told the portfolio committee that there is a solution to the problem yet the Department’s acting CFO says there is no money to resolve the crisis. Who do we believe?

The MEC must also tell us how he allowed a situation where more than 100 people went deaf due to a shortage of staff and broken monitoring equipment to assess the effects of one of the highest burdens in the world of the co-infection of MDR TB and HIV.

It is also the MEC who must be held accountable for the 110/100 000 maternal mortality ratio, of which 11.7% is due to haemorrhage.  In Newcastle, two mothers recently bled out and died after ambulances were delayed. One of the patients was taken to Madadeni Hospital where she was refused treatment after you rationalised services there. By the time she reached Newcastle Hospital, she was dead.

The MEC must also be held accountable for the fact that there are only about 180 functional ambulances on KZN’s roads and where the target response time to priority one emergencies in under 15 minutes is not met in 95% of cases. Last years’ publicity stunt of 22 new ambulances are simply replacements for old vehicles, not additions to the fleet.

 

At its recent Federal Congress, the DA resolved to revitalise the healthcare system based on Our Health Plan. This is an overarching plan to ensure universal access to Healthcare and with the proper funding model, it can be put in place in a short space of time. It is a plan that will ensure the delivery of quality healthcare for all South Africans and it is a plan that the DA will ensure is enacted as soon we walk into the Union Buildings.

A DA healthcare system will not allow for the decay that we see under this ANC government.  It will fire an MEC who does not perform and it will get rid of officials who are deadwood and who loot.

The people of KZN can no longer suffer under an ANC-led healthcare system. They must use the ballot box next year to ensure Total Change.

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