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No end in sight to year-long crisis at EC’s Livingstone Hospital

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It has been a year since the entire management team of Livingstone Hospital, one of the big tertiary hospitals in the Eastern Cape and based in Port Elizabeth, was placed on precautionary suspension following a violent strike by organised labour at the hospital – and there is still no end in sight to the facilities’ management crisis. The Daily Maverick reports that this followed disciplinary action being taken for theft against 127 people, ranging from nurses to general workers, at the facility.

At the time, the threats of violence against the CEO, Thulane Madonsela, who was headhunted by the department for the position, and the director of clinical services, Dr Mojalefa Maseloa, a highly regarded HIV/Aids specialist and clinician, were so high that they had to be escorted from the premises. The following day the rest of the management team including the nursing manager, human resources director, head of IT, finance director and director of soft services including catering, cleaning, landscaping, parking, pest control and security were placed on leave and then suspended.

The report says the department of health’s disciplinary code states that hearings must be finalised within three months, but this has not happened. Instead, the hospital has had a series of acting CEOs, none of whom stayed longer than a few months.

Doctors, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they fear for their patients as the lack of consistent management at the facility is taking its toll. Since the beginning of October, all surgery at the hospital’s six theatres was cancelled on several occasions because no disposable gowns had been ordered.

The report says after not commenting on the issue for three days, Eastern Cape Health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said that gowns had been delivered to the hospital. Kupelo confirmed that another CEO was appointed last week after the department’s trouble-shooter Dr Luvuyo Bayeni was moved to another position in Bhisho. Dr Khanyisa Makamba, the head of the department of urology at the hospital, has been appointed as the new acting CEO from next week.

“Our view is that the allegations of corruption against the employees were of a serious nature and warranted the harsh action of precautionary suspension,” Kupelo said. “The forensic investigation showed that there was sufficient evidence to charge those who were implicated. The disciplinary process is prescribed in the disciplinary code and it has to be procedurally fair even when the substantive issues are extremely concerning.”

Kupelo is quoted in the report as saying he could not say when the matter will be resolved.

Daily Maverick report

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