The Democratic Alliance notes Dr Rolene Wagner’s appointment as the new Superintendent General of the beleaguered Eastern Cape Department of Health. She is suitably qualified for the position and brings a wealth of medical and administrative experience, from both the public and private sectors.
However, we are under no illusions as to the enormity of the challenges she will face in her new role, and without strong political backing to implement the reforms necessary, which has been sadly lacking to date, the task ahead appears insurmountable.
The only hope to correct the disaster that is the Eastern Cape Health Department is to immediately place it under administration, so that the tough decisions can be made.
The ship has been rudderless for far too long and is sinking. Years of systemic corruption, maladministration and cadre deployment have left the Department desperately short of both capacity and strong leadership.
This has in turn resulted in collapsing infrastructure, shortages of critical medicines and medical equipment, critical frontline staff shortages and a bloated and incompetent administration.
Consequently, quality of care has eroded over the years which has contributed significantly to the ever-growing medico-legal claims against the Department.
Accountability and consequence management within the Department are merely words bandied about on occasion but have never been implemented with any success. Disciplinary proceedings remain stalled for years because the Department does not want to offend union bosses by disciplining criminal elements.
I will write to the MEC for Health, Hon Nomakosazana Meth, and urge her to work closely with Dr Wagner to make the difficult decisions that are required to turn the fortunes of our Health Department around.
However, unless there is total political and administrative commitment from all leadership structures in the Department and in the Province to alter the trajectory of this failing department, which is highly unlikely, all the efforts of the new Superintendent General will be for nought.
The Democratic Alliance believes that the only option to ensure that the Department of Health is in a position to render the minimum required level of healthcare services to the people of this province is to place it under administration according to Section 100 (1) (b) (1) of the Constitution of South Africa.