Motsoaledi: We’ll deal with Limpopo hospitals ‘once and for all’
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi will institute a forensic investigation to probe supply chain irregularities and management incompetence at the Mankweng Hospital outside Polokwane.
This follows media reports last month that 500 patients had died in four months, 20 newborns had died within a week, corpses were rotting in broken fridges and that supply chain policies were flouted on a grand scale.
Motsoaledi has subsequently appointed a team of experienced hospital administrators to probe the allegations.
Said Motsoaledi: “It is very clear from the report of the task team that a comprehensive forensic and further investigation still needs to be undertaken to get to the bottom of the problems. Plans are (afoot) to institute such a forensic investigation as recommended by the task team report.”
Motsoaledi also announced the immediate suspension of Victor Khangala, the hospital’s finance manager, and the instituting of disciplinary action against labour relations manager Tshepo Maseleme, financial regulatory compliance manager Stephen Nkgau and another employee, Nakeni Mashao.
The chief executive of the Polokwane-Mankweng Complex Hospitals, Pule Monale, whom Motsoaledi also wanted to suspend, has since resigned after receiving a letter asking him to explain why he should not be suspended.
Motsoaledi said a risk report which was compiled in August last year had linked Khangala to irregularities in procurement.
He didn’t specify the nature of the irregularities but said Monale repeatedly refused to take action against Khangala, even after he was requested to do so.
Motsoaledi’s team found that the hospital’s lifts had not been working for three years, only two of the hospital’s eight steam pots work, and that there was a shortage of linen.
Although the mortuary wasn’t working, the team found no dead bodies rotting in fridges and the service had been outsourced to private operators.
Some air conditioners in theatres had not been functioning, rendering the theatres too hot or too cold, resulting in their closure.
Laundry machines were also not working but the team found that the laundry service had also been outsourced.
“The unavailability of essential drugs, basic equipment, cancellation of elective surgery, lack of basic supplies such as food products and cleaning and antiseptic materials as well as poor infrastructure has caused the rights of patients to basic health to be violated,” said Motsoaledi.
He said he would send a team of monitors and evaluators to visit all hospitals in the province.
I’m hereby announcing to you that a joint team of the National Department of Health and the minister Collins Chabane’s ministry of monitoring and evaluation will soon arrive in Limpopo.
The team will visit hospital by hospital to do monitoring and evaluation work in order to create a framework for government to deal with these problems once and for all.”