Undercover ministers

2011-03-17 00:00

THE next time you are waiting in a schools admissions queue or sitting in a clinic or hospital, the person next to you could be a minister from the national parliament working undercover.

This is all part of government’s bold new monitoring plan to test whether the information being provided in quarterly reports from provinces reflects the reality on the ground.

Deputy Minister in the Presidency for Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation, Dina Pule paid a surprise visit to Northdale Hospital yesterday. She remarked on the cleanliness of the hospital, but expressed her distress at the long queues and the fact that the referral system from surrounding clinics was not working well.

However, she was heartened that the patients were sympathetic to the plight of the overworked doctors and nurses and that they made an appeal for more medical staff to bolster the service. The ministerial team spent a long time in the pharmacy section and noted that despite the large number of patients waiting for medication two of the windows were closed and there was only one pharmacist dispensing medicines.

The other two windows were opened shortly after the dignitaries arrived. Patients suggested babies and the elderly should be served first and that there should be a roster so that all three windows remain open during lunchtime.

Medical staff also presented their grievances and told the visiting team that the outpatients section needed at least four more senior doctors.

KZN Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize said suggestions would be assessed and implemented between the office of the MEC for Health Dr Sbongiseni Dlomo and the head of Northdale Hospital.

Pule met with the KZN Cabinet yesterday to accept the province’ quarterly progress report on how it has fared so far in meeting the goals set by President Jacob Zuma in his state of the Nation address.

Pule was highly impressed by the the Performance Management and monitoring system being developed in KZN, known as the “Nerve Centre” and situated in the Premier’s office.

The minister noted that information was captured right down at district level, and she liked the easy colour-coding system used so that one could spot right away when a department was in trouble.

Pule said ultimately the Nerve Centre will help the national department save money. Instead of travelling to KZN, staff will be able to access information on the province at the press of a button.

However, Pule and her staff will still come calling, not as dignitaries, but as mystery citizens to test the reports being presented.

KZN Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize said the provincial government will also be conducting its own surprise visits to make certain that it is providing an accurate picture of progress in the province to national government.

This is Pule’s second visit to a province. Mpumalanga was first on her list, and Free State is next.



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