Bungle to cost nurse her home

2008-05-26 00:00

A former Townhill Hospital nurse could lose her house due to the alleged incompetence of the human resources department at the hospital, which has failed to process her resignation.

Six months after resigning, Diane Barnes has not received her pension or leave pay or overtime money. She is staring financial ruin in the face as her house is being sold by her former husband’s lawyers to recover money owing to him and to cover the bond payment, which she has not been able to pay because of the delay in getting her pension money.

Staff have blamed acting HR manager Sibongile Ndlovu for incompetence and having brought the department into chaos. It is alleged that Barnes’s problem is a typical example of poor functioning in the administration of the hospital.

Recently, staff marched to the institution’s administration block and handed over a memorandum of demands giving hospital management an ultimatum to rectify the problem of lack of resources and improve service standards.

Barnes, a nurse for the past 18 years, said she recently got divorced and her husband insisted on getting his half of the house.

“I decided to resign so that I could use my pension to pay my ex-husband out so that I can keep the house and provide a roof over my children’s heads.”

She said she sent her first resignation letter on October 1, 2007. “A few weeks later, when I went to find out what progress had been made, HR told me they knew nothing about the resignation. On December 1, I submitted another letter stating I intended to leave work at the end of January, thereby serving a one month’s notice.”

She was told that her pension money would be paid out in April. When she received nothing, she contacted the pension department in Pretoria, but she was told there was nothing about her case on the records. “When I inquired at the Townhill HR department, I discovered that my file was sitting on the HR manager’s desk,” she said.

Barnes said that every time she queries the matter, she is told it is being attended to. She said the hospital gave her a letter on May 8 to show to her creditors. This reads: “Please note that she should have received her pension benefits due to her by the end of April 2008. Due to some delays in submitting her documents to Pretoria, the process will take a little longer, a month or two from now. Kindly bear with us and please keep in touch with us.”

Barnes says her creditors are tired of looking at this letter and the bank is going ahead and selling her house. She has been advised to sue the department as the only means of getting her money from them.

Trade union Nehawu has written to the hospital CEO, a Ms Z. Mfeka, calling for the removal of Ndlovu with immediate effect, alleging that she is, “grossly incompetent and negligent in carrying out her duties”.

The union wants Ndlovu to be charged for gross negligence and causing undue suffering to Barnes.

KZN Health Department spokesman Leon Mbangwa said the matter will be investigated. “We are going to call an urgent institutional management labour committee [meeting] to seek a way forward on the matters raised by workers at Townhill. We are not going to rush into any drastic action and we will give all parties an opportunity to present their case.”

sandilez@witness.co.za

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