Health management

2008-11-17 00:00

Briefing the press on how it contrived to run up some R2,7 billion in over-expenditure, the KwaZulu-Natal Health Department has acknowledged that while there are factors beyond its control, the main reason is the lack of skilled management. Indeed, while the national government has put all the provincial health departments into the red by introducing the Occupational Specific Dispensation (OSD) without providing adequate funding, poor management is the only possible explanation for such massive overspending.

It is perhaps encouraging that Health MEC Peggy Nkonyeni has worked with the provincial Treasury to devise a rescue plan. By and large, however, this amounts to little more than a tightening up on things that should be properly controlled in the normal course of events, and that certainly should have been recognised and checked at a much earlier stage — ghost employees, overpayments, poor supply chain and contract controls, inflated overtime pay and subsistence and travel claims, and fraudulent practices with regard to medicines. And, good as it is that specific problem areas have now been identified, listing them is one thing, correcting them quite another. When things go wrong, the public sector has a distinct tendency to assemble think-tanks or call in consultants (often at considerable cost), but not to take any really effective action on whatever report emerges — beyond, perhaps, declining to publish it.

Talking about things is not the same as doing them, and, as this instance again illustrates, effective management is essential. The simple routine practice, common in the business sector, of calling in monthly reports that compare expenditure with budget and then holding employees accountable for any discrepancies would surely have prevented the build-up of this massive year-end figure. And effective management, in turn, is basically a matter of putting the right people into the right jobs. Let it be hoped that the scale of this fiasco will bring forward the time when competence, and not race or political and family connections, is the criterion for appointments.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.