Gauteng Health Workers Paid Late Again

Thousands of Community Health Workers in Gauteng have been told they will not be paid at the end of this month but only by 6 December.

Yesterday they received the following message from SmartPurse, the controversial company that is being paid R87 million to pay about 7000 CHWs over a three year period:

“Dear Valued CHW! Please be advised that stipends for Nov will be paid by the 6th Dec. Apologies for any inconvenience caused. For more info call 0879437236.”

This late payment is outrageous as CHWs only earn R2500 and have bills to pay like everyone else.

They are expected to play a key role in preventing and treating HIV/Aids, but will now be unpaid tomorrow on World AIDS day (1 December).

This is what one CHW said in a whatsapp message “they really don’t care, people are going to be homeless, no food for our kids no christmas clothes”.

SmartPurse should be fired as they have not solved the long-standing problem of late payment to CHWs.

It’s one more bungle by Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu who still resists accountability for the deaths of 37 psychiatric patients sent to unsuitable NGOs.

 

 

Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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DA Proposes Motion On Poorly Paid Community Health Workers

Speech by: Jack Bloom MPL

“SmartPurse, not so smart after all in paying CHWs”

  • Despite the very high fee paid to SmartPurse, they are not very competent in doing what they are supposed to do. In fact SmartPurse does not appear to be a smart company at all;
  • We all know that good work that CHWs do in our health system. They are a crucial link with the community, especially the elderly and the frail;
  • The Honourable MEC owes an explanation to this House and to thousands of very unhappy CHWs. What is she going to do to ensure that payment problems are resolved, which is related to the status of CHWs;
  • It is very worrying that the drop-off in CHW numbers is affecting primary health care. This is why there are more than 70 000 AIDS patients on ARVs who have been lost to follow-up; and
  • CHWs are tired of the uncertainty and tired of being bullied. They need to be properly equipped, properly supervised and properly paid.

The full speech can be obtained here.

 

Speech by: Dr Neil Campbell MPL

“Community Health Workers deserve equal pay for equal work” 

  • CHWs are often erroneously seen by provincial departments of health as a cheap and inferior type of healthcare worker, which couldn’t be further from the truth;
  • CHWs need to be responsive to community needs and to do this they require back-up from state healthcare structures, which is often not forthcoming;
  • CHWs have no career pathway and seem doomed to be entry level workers indefinitely despite many years of loyal, productive service; and
  • To increase the footprint of CHWs in our communities, we must prioritize their skills development and their career paths and ensure that their services are decently and consistently rewarded with regular guaranteed pay packages.

The full speech can be obtained here.

 

Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

 

Dr Neil Campbell MPL

DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Health

082 387 2540

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2400 Unpaid Community Health Workers In Gauteng

Gauteng Community Health Workers

Only 6338 out of 8760 Community Health Workers (CHWs) in Gauteng have signed up with the SmartPurse company to be paid their monthly R2500 stipend after the Gauteng Health Department transferred this function to the company in May this year.

This means that 2422 CHWs have not been paid for their work and many of those who did sign with SmartPurse have also not been paid on time because of the company’s inefficiency.

This information is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

Smart Purse Solutions Pty Ltd

According to Mahlangu, 2315 CHWs were paid late by SmartPurse for their May stipend, and 237 were paid late for their June stipend. She says that the late payments were because “some CHWs did not report for work. Their personal data was therefore verified late.”

To ensure that payments are made on time, she says that “banking details and work attendance are now validated at the facility level.”

Mahlangu also says that “there were delays in the selection process and signing of contracts due to protest action. The selection process for Tshwane has been concluded and an increased number of CHWs across the province are gradually signing.”

I am greatly concerned that 2422 CHWs have not been paid for four months because they have not signed a contract with SmartPurse, which was controversially awarded a R87 million contract for three years to pay the CHWs.

I have also received many complaints from CHWs about the poor administration of payments.

Blow to Primary Health Care

CHWs do valuable work that includes providing home-based care, delivering medicines to house-bound patients, and going door-to-door to assess the health status of households.

They deserve to be treated properly and paid on time, but SmartPurse does not appear to be doing a good job in this regard.

The loss of more than 2000 CHWs because they refuse to sign the contract with SmartPurse is a blow to the provision of primary health care, and their valid concerns should be addressed to retain their services.

 

Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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High Cost To Pay Gauteng Community Health Workers

Smart Purse Solutions Pty Ltd

Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu today tried to justify the R87 million to be paid to Smart Purse Solutions Pty Ltd to pay 9000 Community Health Workers over a three year period.

In an oral reply today to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature, Mahlangu said that a tender process had been followed in appointing the company which would pay R250 million a year in stipends for the CHWs.

She said that there had been “challenges” in paying CHWs as it was done manually and and they had been used to do other things by “different political parties”.

Late Payments

Smart Purse would be implementing an electronic payment system using biometric monitoring so that CHWs were accurately paid for the work they did. They were not civil servants and could not be given a PERSAL number.

My concern is that R87 million is an excessive amount to pay Smart Purse to make stipend payments that total R750 million over three years, which is a 12% administration cost.

I hope the new system works as CHWs have been treated appallingly in the past with late payments, but it seems to me to be a rip-off to pay so much to a company to monitor and pay them.

In response to my concern MEC Mahlangu said she would look into the matter of excessive cost.

 

Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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Hundreds Of Soweto Health Workers Not Paid

Community Health Workers

Hundreds of Community Health Workers (CHWs) in Soweto are in despair as they have not been paid since February this year.

I have received complaints about this from CHWs at the Chiawelo, Zola, Dobsonville, Tladi and Lillian Ngoyi clinics in Soweto.

They have been given various excuses as to why they were not paid their R2500 salary last month.

Last year they were also not paid for many months and received an apology from Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu who blamed an administrative problem.

SmartPurse Solutions

It is unclear whether the non-payment is because of the new R87 million contract awarded to SmartPurse Solutions Pty Ltd to take over the payment of CHWs.

The CHWs do valuable work that includes home-based care, delivering medicines to house-bound patients, and going door-to-door to assess the health status of households.

It is disappointing that yet again there is a payment problem that needs to be fixed as soon as possible.

 

Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 3334222

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R87 Million Tender To Pay Gauteng Health Salaries

Smart Purse Solutions Pty Ltd

I am concerned that the Gauteng Health Department has awarded an R87 million tender to a company to manage the payment of about 9000 community health workers.

The tender has been awarded to Smart Purse Solutions Pty Ltd for three years, and they are expected to procure and install biometric devices at health facilities, develop community health worker monitoring software, validate and verify workers, and pay them stipends which range from R2500 to R4000 per month.

It seems to me that this is an expensive contract for work that the department should be able to do itself.

Unnecessary Expenditure

The department does payments for all its other employees, so why pay extra for a company to pay the community health workers?

There have been problems in the past with the payment of community health workers, but the Department should fix its own incompetence rather than incur unnecessary expense.

I will be asking questions in the Legislature about the need for this contract and whether it was awarded with a proper process.

 

Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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