Picture: SUPPLIED/DISCOVERY HEALTH
Picture: SUPPLIED/DISCOVERY HEALTH

Rebuilding the strike-hit department of health in North West will take about 18 months — but the condition is that it the required resources be provided, the administrator appointed by government to oversee the turnaround said on Wednesday.

The department, which was brought to a point of collapse as a result of a strike last month, has been placed under administration by national government and Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has appointed an intervention team, led by Jeanette Hunter as the administrator.

The costing for the intervention and its team of experts is expected to be completed by August. The team plans to strengthen supply-chain management and internal governance, and review the department’s organisational structure, among other things.

Hunter told the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) ad hoc committee that the baseline amount required to run the North West department of health services was not known. The department was under-funded and it was necessary to work out the baseline, she said.

The ad hoc committee is conducting oversight of the province, which has been taken over by national government in terms of Section 100 of the Constitution.

Hunter said the budget allocation for the compensation of employees to fill critical posts in the department was insufficient, with the shortfall for the 2018-19 financial year projected at R204m. The budget for compensation of employees was increased by 5% from R6.63bn to R6.7bn from 2017-18 to 2018-19.

She noted that there were 734 acting positions in the department. Of the 21,829 approved posts, 19% (4,175) are vacant. The vacancy rate at senior management level is 28%, with 17 of the 63 posts needing to be filled.

In addition to a shortage of staff and inadequate resources, infrastructure was run down and there was a need for equipment.

With regard to the financial management of the department, Hunter said a preliminary assessment indicated a "widespread collapse of internal governance structures; absence of effective supply-chain management; weak expenditure and financial controls; insufficient performance monitoring; and data records that are unreliable and therefore hindering management’s ability to make informed decisions".

Procurement for the department has largely been outsourced to a third party with the result that there has been a significant 38% increase (R118m) in the allocation for services from 2017-18 to 2018-19.

A number of major contracts, such as that with the now terminated Gupta-linked Mediosa mobile clinic, are being scrutinised by the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer.

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