SOUTH AFRICA: Health Committee Oversight Uncovers Problems in Free State’s Thabo Mofutsanyane District

September 2016  ;The Portfolio Committee on Health conducted an oversight visit to the Thabo Mofutsanyane District in the Free State this week. On day one of the oversight, the Committee visited the Mofumahadi Manapo Mopeli Regional Hospital, and the Mphathalatsa and the Mahaig clinics.

At Mofumahadi Manapo Mopeli hospital, the Committee divided itself into two groups focussing on clinical and administrative issues respectively. The hospital’s Chief Executive Officer, Ms Bongi Mthimkhulu, shared her frustration with the challenges she experiences when working with the provincial department, telling the Committee about the delays in making staff appointments because of the many signatures needed to approve an appointment.

The Committee found that the hospital roof leaks and catering and cleaning services are outsourced, giving workers no job security or benefits. The Committee also found that the hospital’s boiler had been broken for five days, but was told that the service provider had not responded to requests to fix it. Ms Mthimkhulu said the hospital has a budget shortfall and does not have enough money to procure services for maintenance or to insource workers.

Reporting back on their findings to the provincial Department of Health, the Committee said the hospital needs to look at maintenance of infrastructure, while commending the hospital for providing services to the people despite the challenges of being understaffed from doctor’s to cleaners. Members of the Committee indicated that they were aware that the provincial Department of Health has been placed under administration, which has contributed to some challenges.

Chairperson of the Committee, Ms Lindelwa Dunjwa said she was taken aback to hear that the filter services in theatres have not been changed. “You are bordering into being victims of litigation.” However, she added that the Committee wants to assist the hospital, not undermine the professional integrity of the staff.

A Committee member Dr Patrick Maesela said maintenance at the hospital was not being attended to because it is centralised in Bloemfontein. He said the hospital needs assistance and the administrator is not providing this.

At the clinics, the Committee discovered water shortages, safety and security issues and problems with a new admissions system. A Committee member, Mr Fish Mahlalela, asked why at Mahaig Clinic, people had been at the clinic for more than eight hours. “We were told it is because of the new system, which is suppose to accelerate service delivery, but is moving at a snail’s pace,” said Mr Mahlalela.

In a meeting with the Director at the Department of Health Free State, Mr Papi Maarohayane, told the Committee that a new contractor is due to begin maintenance at both clinics. This will address some of the challenges, but budget constraints are affecting the level of intervention possible, he said.



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