Health ‘to fix issues’

2015-02-11 00:00

THE political head of the Department of Health said the institution, whose finances were recently found by the ­auditor-general to be in tatters, will mend its ways.

But while MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo is confident of a turnaround, he admitted that the curtailing of state medical practitioners moonlighting in private practices, putting significant strain on the key essential service, could not be stopped.

Recently Dhlomo said greed among senior doctors and ­specialists was compounding the headache of lawsuits being faced by the KZN DoH.

He said senior doctors ­employed by the department, and meant to train and supervise junior doctors, were never at their jobs and instead spent most of their time moonlighting at private ­hospitals.

The department is currently facing claims in excess of R5 billion in civil lawsuits.

“We can’t confirm that it [moonlighting] won’t happen again. We ­cannot guarantee this. We simply can’t monitor our staff all the time.

“We usually only find these matters out once they have happened or when someone is meant to be at our facility at 8 am but they are listed as being available at a private practise that same day,” he said.

DA’s Mark Steele said he was ­concerned that moonlighting by ­“senior medical staff” would mean the department would incur further ­overtime costs.

The A-G report found that throughout the 2013/14 financial year, the ­department paid just more than R40 million in extra overtime costs. The threshold for overtime per ­employee is 30%.

The department also admitted to the Standing Committee on Public ­Accounts (Scopa) that they have since found “157 officials” employed by ­government who had been undertaking private work, to the value of R82,1 million, with the department from 2012 to 2014.

In a written statement to Scopa, the department said: “[We are] currently reviewing the matter with the objective being the recovery of any prejudice ­suffered by the department.”

But Dhlomo remained upbeat, ­stating his department was eager to clean up its image.

“By this time next year, we should have less and less to answer to. We are putting in a turnaround. We are looking forward and working hard,” he said.

• If you have information about public service doctors moonlighting, contact the writer at or call 073 227 6075.

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