Ops cancelled but situation calmed down at Joburg hospital

by Jack Bloom MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

The situation at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital has calmed down this afternoon, after severe disruption by protesters this morning.

I visited the hospital and found rubbish strewn all over and the remains of burnt-out fires.

Non-emergency surgery has been cancelled and most patients have left the hospital.

I was told that protesters threatened staff and patients and in once instance, pulled doctors out of surgery while a patient was on the operating table.

Hospital security locked wards for the protection of staff and patients.

The Police were called in to stabilize the situation.

Management has spoken to the unions who denied their involvement but undertook to speak to the workers.

The grievance relates primarily to unpaid bonuses for 2016 and 2017 – most of the protesters were general assistants.

This follows the trashing of the hospital a month ago, after which the Gauteng Health Department promised to address worker grievances.

I deplore the violence at the hospital which has been most traumatic for patients and staff. The Gauteng Health Department should have resolved worker grievances more speedily.

Protest action has included other hospitals including Leratong Hospital on the West Rand and Bertha Gxowa hospital in Germiston.

Violence in hospitals should never be condoned no matter the grievance, and perpetrators must be brought to book.

Gauteng mental health NGOs still wait for subsidies

by Jack Bloom MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC

Some relief appears to be in sight for 130 mental health NGOs who have now been informed by the Gauteng Health Department that they will get financial assistance in a week’s time on 7 June.

It is unclear, however, whether this will be an interim payment for expenses or the full payment of all subsidies owing, which amount to R4 800 per patient per month.

This is a slow response to the crisis faced by NGOs who have not received their subsidies for two months because the Department waited until the last moment to initiate new Service Level Agreements.

Many staff at the NGOs have worked without pay over this period and have struggled to get donors for food and other necessities.

This is why the Democratic Alliance made a food donation yesterday to the Takalani Home for the Intellectually Disabled in Soweto, and also involved other donors to assist.

Takalani looks after 58 severely and profoundly mentally disabled residents, mostly children, who are supposed to receive a subsidy from the Gauteng Health Department. They also care for 52 residents who have also not received subsidies from the Department of Social Development (DSD).

Other NGOs have faced a perilous situation in trying to survive the past two months, so urgent relief is necessary.

The Gauteng Provincial Government should be ashamed by its callous treatment of organizations that look after the most vulnerable people in our society.

DA lays charges against Merafong Municipality for dodgy VBS Investment

by Ina Cilliers MPL – DA Constituency Head: Merafong

The Democratic Alliance has laid charges against the ANC-led Merafong Municipality for illegally investing public funds with the now defunct VBS bank.

In September last year, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) warned VBS against soliciting investment from municipalities. After this warning was issued, the total investment in VBS bank by municipalities shot up from R1 billion to R1.5 billion.

Merafong’s total investment with the bank stands at R50 million.

SARB has warned that these funds are likely to be irrecoverable.

The people’s money has now disappeared in an illegal investment; this has had a massive impact on the financial well-being of the municipality.

As a result, for the coming financial year, the ANC in Merafong have presented an unfunded budget, which means that they will try to provide services and programmes with money they do not have to spend.

Coupled to this, the slow turn-around time to attend to service delivery failures, and the non-compliance with the law have left Merafong residents in a difficult situation.

While the ANC in Merafong continues to operate beyond the remit of the law, residents are reeling from this untenable situation.

Gauteng Finance MEC, Barbara Creecy has indicated – after months of blame shifting and denial, that the provincial treasury will investigate the matter.

The DA has been warning for months that this lack of fiscal management would have a negative impact on the day-to-day running of the municipality and leave residents in the lurch.

MEC Creecy must expedite this investigation and ensure that those responsible are brought to book as well as recover as much of these funds as possible.

The DA will continue to pursue the case we have opened so that those who have broken the law are held to account.

The people of Merafong deserve a better life than the one they have been dealt by the ANC. Our imperative is to ensure that we can bring about a positive change in Merafong.

GPG fails to meet GBN connectivity targets

by Mike Moriarty MPL – DA Gauteng Provincial Legislature Chief Whip

To date, only 1181 out of 3000 Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) sites have been connected to the Gauteng Broadband Network (GBN).

This was confirmed to me by Gauteng MEC for Finance, Barbara Creecy, in response to written questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL).

According to the MEC, the department has a shortfall of 489 sites that were to be connected in the 2017/2018 financial year. For the 2018/2019 financial year, the department plans to connect 850 additional sites.

Ensuring that government sites in Gauteng are connected to the GBN is important as many of our people cannot afford internet access at home.

Job seekers, especially the youth rely on this important service, so that they are able to find employment opportunities. Learners and students require internet access for projects and assignments.

In order to mitigate the risk of not meeting its targets, the department has requested the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) to commit to a rapid deployment strategy to be implemented so that the GBN Phase 2 service providers can be appointed.

We will closely monitor the rollout of this project to ensure that the GPG meets its targets of connecting multiple sites to the network. Come 2019, the DA will ensure that the people of Gauteng are not disadvantaged due to the poor implementation and mismanagement of key service delivery projects.

Burning tyres at Joburg Hospital

by Jack Bloom MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC

Protesting workers at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital burnt tyres and blocked entrances yesterday, causing fear and disruption for patients and staff.

A nurse described to me how she feared for her safety when she couldn’t drive her car out at 1pm because of a burning tire and aggressive protestors.

The workers’ grievances are about unpaid performance bonuses and the current wage negotiations.

I am highly concerned that disruption continues at this hospital which was violently trashed a month ago.

Leratong hospital on the West Rand has also been affected by workers who have blockaded the hospital, causing the cancellation of all non-emergency surgery.

The Gauteng Health Department needs to settle worker grievances speedily and fairly, but disruption of hospitals should not be tolerated as they provide an essential service

Sebokeng Zone 11 Stadium in a state of disrepair

by Kingsol Chabalala MPL – DA Gauteng Constituency Head-Emfuleni North

The Sebokeng Zone 11 Stadium in the Emfuleni Local Municipality is in a state of disrepair and there is nothing to show for the over R560 000 spent by the municipality on upgrading the stadium during the 2015/16 financial year.

This was revealed by Gauteng COGTA MEC, Uhuru Moiloa in a written reply to the DA’s questions at the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

According to MEC Moiloa, Emfuleni spent R560 131.98 to upgrade the stadium during the 2015/16 financial year and a number of service providers were paid for rendering the service.

This is a complete waste of taxpayers’ money as the stadium has yet to be utilised.

There has been absolutely no maintenance of the stadium as it has been vandalised and has turned into a dumping site.

This is deeply disappointing as our communities are in dire need of sporting grounds and yet the municipality is failing to take care of these much-needed facilities.

The DA will hold both COGTA MEC, Moiloa and Emfuleni Mayor Jacob Khawe to account to ensure that the stadium has something to show for the money spent so that it can be utilised by the residents.

DSD fails to fill critical posts

by Justus De Goede MPL – DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Social Development

The Gauteng Department of Social Development (DSD) consistently fails to fill critical posts within the department.

According to the department’s fourth quarterly report for the 2017/18 financial year, the department has a 100 percent vacancy rate of occupational therapists, 82 percent vacancy rate of psychologists and 11 percent vacancy rate for social work and related professions.

This indicates that 14 occupational therapist posts and 11 posts for psychologists were not filled during this quarter.

Failure by the department to fill these very critical and specialised posts has a severe impact on the lives of our poor people who cannot afford private services, particularly in informal settlements.

This department’s incompetence is affecting the most vulnerable residents of Gauteng and this is difficult to understand, as there is a budget allocation for these posts to be filled.

In addition, the department has recruited 2025 social workers against its target of 2172, which means that there is a shortfall of 147 social workers.

Despite the fact that our province is facing a crisis, owing to a shortage of social workers, the ANC-led Gauteng administration displays little concern for the welfare of our people.

Social workers, occupational therapists and psychologists play a critical role in counselling, promoting positive behaviour and in helping residents to improve their ability to perform tasks.

The DA calls on Gauteng Department of Social Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza to urgently fill all vacant critical posts in the department to ensure that the public receives all the professional services it needs.

Come 2019, when DA runs Gauteng, we will ensure that all critical posts are filled. In so doing we will be creating job opportunities and servicing the poor and disadvantaged.

#HospitalHealthCheck: Tembisa Hospital struggles with overcrowding and staff shortages

by Jack Bloom MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC

The Tembisa Hospital is trying to come up with innovative ways to cope with massive overcrowding and huge staff shortages.

This is my major impression following my oversight inspection today to the hospital with DA MPL Dr Neil Campbell, local DA Constituency Head Graham Gersbach MPL and DA Ekurhuleni Councillor Eulbri Kubayi.

The hospital serves a population of 2.5 million and delivers 16 000 babies a year, the second highest number in Gauteng.

The large increase in patient numbers often results in patients having to sleep on stretchers or mattresses on the floor, particularly in casualty and in the medical wards.

There are 840 beds, but there can be close to 1000 admitted patients at busy periods.

Hospital CEO Dr Lekopane Mogaladi said that there are usually 200 medical patients a day, but only 176 beds in the medical wards.

The 30-bed psychiatric ward is also usually full, so psychiatric patients have to be placed in other wards which can cause security and other problems.

The hospital currently has 2118 staff, but the Gauteng Health Department has only given permission to fill 4 out of 49 posts.

We were told, however, that according to international norms and standards the hospital should have at least 628 more nurses to provide a proper service to patients. They are running with only about 40% of the nurses that are really needed.

The dire shortage of staff puts extreme strain on them, and increases the risk of medical negligence which leads to large payouts that strain the health budget further.

I was encouraged by Dr Mogaladi’s plan with a private partner to open a prefabricated medical ward with 24 beds in August this year, bypassing the dysfunctional Department of Infrastructure Development which usually takes years to build anything.

He is also trying innovative ways like block bookings to bring down the waiting periods for patients.

A new CT scanner is due to arrive in December this year to replace a machine that is slow and often breaks down.

Tembisa Hospital would benefit if the Gauteng Health Department expanded the Edenvale Hospital and built a new hospital in Kempton Park, which would give patients alternative hospitals to visit in a large catchment area.

I am concerned that psychiatric patients are kept at this hospital for long periods of time as there are not enough beds for them at Weskoppies Mental Hospital – they should only be at Tembisa Hospital for 72 hour observation before they are discharged or sent to a longer-term facility.

I hope that the Gauteng Health Department reconsiders its staff freeze and assists this hospital to be properly staffed and equipped to serve a large and growing populations.

No Esidimeni payments despite looming deadline

by Jack Bloom MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC

The Gauteng Provincial Government has not yet made payments to the families of the Life Esidimeni patients who suffered and died, even though Justice Dikgang Moseneke set 19 June as the deadline for his arbitration award, which is only three weeks away.

This is revealed by Gauteng Premier David Makhura in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

Makhura says that “No payment has been made yet, the process is underway to verify bank details of all the beneficiaries and validate new applications. We will meet the timeframe set by the Arbitrator, Justice Moseneke.”

The arbitration awarded R1.2 million to 67 families who lost a relative in the Esidimeni tragedy, and R1.18 million (which excludes R20 000 for burial costs) to the families of 68 patients who survived the transfer to unregistered NGOs.

This amounts to a total payment of R160.64 million to 135 claimants, but new claimants are also being accepted so the total cost is likely to increase considerably as there were more than 1400 patients who survived.

Justice Moseneke gave a three month deadline for the payments to be made in a lump sum.

It is unclear where the money will be found to pay for this as Makhura says that “The Provincial Executive Council (Exco) is finalising all consultations with national department of Health on this matter
and an update report will be given to the legislature in due course.”

I am concerned that arrangements have not yet been finalized as to where the money will be found to meet the firm deadline set by Justice Moseneke.

It cannot come from the hard-pressed budget of the Gauteng Health Department which is struggling to provide a decent health service.

It seems that Makhura is trying to get the National Treasury to assist in paying the rising costs of the Esidimeni tragedy that he could have avoided had he listened to all the warnings.

Emfuleni runs dry due to governance failure

by Kingsol Chabalala MPL – DA Constituency Head: Emfuleni

The ANC-run Emfuleni municipality is without water as a 88KW cable at the main Rand Water reservoir at Langrand was stolen.

Cable theft is a reality in our downturned economy, as people sell these stolen cables to make money to feed themselves and their families.

It is through irresponsible ANC governance that this reservoir was not sufficiently guarded to protect crucial infrastructure.

Emfuleni has over the past year experienced water restrictions due to the municipality defaulting on its Rand Water account.

Residents of Emfuleni deserve a better government that will ensure that basic rights such as access to clean water are protected.

The DA will monitor this situation and apply pressure on those responsible to ensure that the water is turned back on as soon as possible.