Hospital in dire straits after Health Department allegedly cuts their funding

2013-11-01 00:00

A HOSPITAL in Mariannhill outside Durban is facing a dilemma with having to deliver the services they were contracted for by the provincial Health Department, while the same department has allegedly cut their funding.

St Mary’s Hospital is privately run, and receives a subsidy from the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health to offer health services on their behalf.

The hospital’s marketing and fundraising manager Julie Vivier said they have entered into an annual service level agreement with the department. “While these funds are guaranteed, the agreed amounts are substantially less than required for the current operations and additional pubic health services.”

A business plan was submitted during November 2012 requesting funding to fulfil the services of a district hospital and additional primary health care services and staff increments, among others.

The hospital’s board of trustees have now secured a meeting with the head of the KZN Department of Health Sibongile Zungu in November with the hope of resolving the matter.

“The hospital faces a stressful time and we hope to achieve clarity on the way forward after our meeting. We fully understand our staff’s frustration under the current circumstances and pray that we can overcome these difficult challenges,” said the CEO of St Mary’s, Dr Douglas Ross.

Yesterday, members of the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) picketed outside the hospital, demanding a salary increase.

Denosa KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary Cassim Lekhoathi said complaints were lodged with the Department of Health in April, but the staff have not been given increases yet. “We have demanded a forensic audit be done on the management of the hospital because the staff say their requests are not being met due to insufficient funding of the hospital. This could possibly lead to the closure of the hospital where there are more than one million people dependent on it. However, many of the community members say the hospital is too expensive.”

Lekhoathi said if they are not able to pay their staff, management of St Mary’s will have to hand over the hospital to the Health Department.

Vivier said a memorandum by Denosa members was handed to the hospital CEO and chairperson of the board of trustees, and this will be addressed in full.

Health Department spokesperson Samuel Mkhwanazi said they will respond later.

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