Clinics across the province are stuck in limbo, with staff crying out for leadership, as the process of transferring clinics from municipal level to the provincial Department of Health drags on, eight years after the process started.
Once again, a lack of decisive leadership and poor planning have left the department in a state of complete disarray.
In 2012 the Provincial Department of Health embarked upon a provincialisation process to ensure that the 206 clinics that were run by local municipalities were transferred to the provincial government.
The first phase, which included the transfer of personnel, was finalised after legal intervention, but the process has left some staff members with dramatically reduced pensions.
However, it is the second phase of the process, the transfer of assets from municipalities to the Department, which is now having serious implications for the provision of primary healthcare services across the province.
Thirteen of the twenty-six affected municipalities refuse to sign transfer documents or submit council minutes agreeing to the transfer of assets.
Now staff at the affected clinics are speaking out, saying that they were far better off being managed by municipalities.
The Democratic Alliance, as a federal party, believes in the principle of subsidiarity, which requires that a central authority should perform only those tasks which cannot be performed at local level. The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us that there is no “one size fits all” solution to the health crisis in the Eastern Cape.
Municipalities with the necessary capabilities should therefore be allowed to manage clinics at local level, provided that funds follow function.
I have written to Health MEC, Sindiswa Gomba, and requested that the entire process be reviewed, so that a more effective strategy can be utilised to ensure that healthcare workers are fairly treated and the best possible healthcare can be administered to our communities.