Shape up or ship out, Motsoaledi tells hospital managers

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi told hospital chief executives and managers on Thursday to shape up or they will be removed.

“We need to shape up. We need to do things better for South Africans. We need changes very quickly,” Motsoaledi told the senior officials from five provinces during a meeting in Boksburg.

“There is a problem ...
we are going to reverse that,” he said.

Motsoaledi told the officials that an audit of all the hospitals in the country would be done. It would include a complete assessment of their skills and their running of their hospitals.

The R10-million audit would be a long-term intervention to address the ailing public health system. It would start in January and take three months to complete.

In the short-term, control teams would go to hospitals to examine, among other things, the safety and security of patients, cleanliness, waiting times, staff attitudes, and the availability of drugs.

“I don’t think it will be an exaggeration to say that some of our hospitals are death traps in terms of infections,” he said.

“Can management tell me how do you find it so easy to work in a dirty hospital?” he asked.

A hospital was meant to be one of the cleanest public institutions, but patients across the country found the opposite when they entered them, he noted, urging the officials to treat their staff like human beings.

“When a human being enters a hospital, you can’t allow yourself to look at a biological entity ... it’s a human being, a wife, a mother ... if you look upon them as a biological entity you are going to be abusing them,” he said.

He warned the hospital’s top management that the attitude of their staff and the cleanliness of their hospitals was a direct reflection of their management style.

“If your hospital is dirty, it’s a reflection of you who you are ... what leadership are you giving ... why is your staff unfriendly to human beings,” he said.

A lack of staff could not be blamed for the lengthy amount of time South Africans had to wait to be treated in hospitals.

“Why are people queuing for six hours?” he asked. “This is also a function of management and not only an issue of human resources,” he said.

In his address, Motsoaledi outlined the government’s plan to improve the country’s health care system.

This included a return to the basics which, Motsoaledi charged, South Africa had forgotten.

“We are waiting for people to get sick and then subjecting them to our instruments ... We fail dismally on the simply things that kill our people.

“We are going to start leaving flying up in the air and start coming back to the basics,” he said.

Earlier this month, Motsoaledi released shocking HIV/Aids statistics.

He laid the blame for this on the denialist policies of the previous administration.

On Thursday, he told journalists that there was an urgency to fight the virus as a country.

He said the country needed to focus and could not afford to argue about statistics.

Motsoaledi urged the officials to start implementing the plan immediately on their return to their hospitals.

“We believe that if this 10-point plan can be adhered to, a lot of things can improve. I’m sure you would agree that it’s not rocket science,” he told them.

Motsoaledi will meet officials from the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Free State on Friday at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.—Sapa

Natasha Marrian

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