Netcare: Clarity required from Lesotho on termination of public private partnership

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Netcare today said that the Government of Lesotho (GoL) has yet to provide clarity regarding the future of the public private partnership (PPP) operated by Tšepong*, as no official notice regarding the termination of the PPP has been issued to date by the GoL to Tšepong.

Netcare is a major shareholder in the PPP between the GoL and Tšepong, and is also responsible for managing the Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital (QMMH) and related filter clinics in Maseru, Kingdom of Lesotho.

Media report regarding termination of the PPP agreement

Despite a recent Lesotho Times billboard falsely proclaiming that Tšepong has ended the QMMH contract, Tšepong has made no such decision or declaration. Neither has Tšepong agreed to the termination of the contract, as reported in the Lesotho Times for the week of 29 April to 5 May 2021. The report further alleges that the Minister of Health stated that the GoL had resolved to terminate the 18-year-long PPP agreement, now in its 13th year. It stated that this was allegedly finally triggered by the illegal strike and subsequent dismissal of 265 nursing staff members who failed to return to work at QMMH, when ordered by the court to do so during February 2021.

However, Dr Chris Smith, General Manager: Finance at Netcare confirmed that Tšepong has to date only received an Operator Default notice from the GoL dated 18 March 2021. On 12 April 2021, Tšepong management submitted a formal response to the GoL, in which it comprehensively addressed the allegations raised by Mr Khothatso Ts’ooana, the GoL Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health. The allegations made by GoL in support of the Operator Default notice were entirely refuted by Tšepong management as either unsubstantiated claims or claims already submitted for resolution through the arbitration process.

“Tšepong management remains confident that it has acted in accordance with both the letter and spirit of the PPP agreement, the law and sound corporate governance,” he said.

Dr Smith further confirmed that to date no official acknowledgement of receipt of Tšepong management’s response has been issued by the GoL, and that all stakeholders are awaiting further guidance from GoL regarding its preferred way forward.

“The indecisiveness and uncertainty caused by the GoL is frustrating to staff members at the QMMH and filter clinics, and other stakeholders involved in the project,” he added.

Continuing to serve the needs of the Basotho

“Importantly, Netcare believes that the termination of the PPP agreement is not in the best interest of any of the stakeholders and especially not for the Basotho nation,” Dr Smith maintains.

In July 2020, a Second Endline study was concluded by Boston University, the Lesotho Boston Health Alliance and the University of San Francisco MPH program on the QMMH and the PPP on the performance and quality of care provided. The results of the study, which was based on 2018 data and released in April 2021, reaffirmed the importance of the project, supported by findings such as: “In terms of the clinical quality indicators, there were consistent improvements over QE II [Queen Elizabeth II] in all quality indicators……standards remained high across multiple indicators….. prior to QMMH, almost no very low birthweight neonates survived in Lesotho as there was no NICU in the country. In 2018, 58% of very low birthweight neonates admitted to QMMH survived…”

Netcare remains committed to providing the Basotho with quality care. “Netcare is privileged to be serving the Basotho with quality healthcare. The PPP project has brought a range of specialised services to Lesotho, unprecedented in the country’s history, and significantly elevated the range and quality of healthcare services accessible by the citizens of the Kingdom of Lesotho. Netcare awaits further guidance from the GoL regarding their preferred way forward and is endeavouring to ensure continuity of services during this uncertain period,” concluded Dr Smith.

* Tšepong (Pty) Limited (Tšepong) shareholders comprise the Netcare Hospital Group (Pty) Ltd (Netcare), which holds a 40% interest while the remaining 60% shareholding is held by Afrinnai Health (Pty) Ltd (Afrinnai) (20% – South African based), Excel Health Services (Pty) Ltd (Excel) (20% – Lesotho based), D10 Investments (Pty) Ltd (D10) (10% – Lesotho based), and Women Investment Company (Pty) Ltd (WIC) (10% – Lesotho based).

Netcare’s role in the PPP is to provide and deliver all management, clinical and related services, equipment and information technology (IT), laundry, cleaning, security and gardening services, amongst others. In addition, Netcare is responsible for nurse and emergency services training and for the establishment of relations with external training institutions to facilitate peer review and support of medical practitioners. Tšepong as principal contractor of the PPP mainly has the obligation for the employment of staff members.


Issued by: MNA on behalf of Netcare

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