Statement of the Deputy Minister of Health Dr Gwen Ramokgopa to a press conference held in Pelonomi Hospital Bloemfontein, to address management and staff on safety issues
6 Nov 2010
The main purpose of our visit to Pelonomi Hospital is to convey our shock as a Department of Health at the criminal act that took place on the hospital premises against a female doctor.
The doctor in question was sexually and physically attacked by three assailants while on weekend duty at the hospital. The causal identified factors to the incident was inadequate security due to construction currently taking place in the hospital forcing people to walk through areas that have poor lighting, and uncontrollable movement of people.
During the visit to the survivor to convey the message of support from the national Ministry of Health, we assured the family, support, working with the Free State MEC of Health Ms E Mabe and the department. The doctor needs support from all of us in order to deal with her tragic experience. We will ensure that she receives optimal support, working with the family and the province. We will also support her during a court appearance on Tuesday, 8 November 2010.
The family is very people-centred and deeply traumatised by this incident because they considered the community around the hospital as their friends. They have sent a message of appreciation to her colleagues who have supported them through prayer. They have asked to be treated with respect during this difficult period. They have also asked for privacy to allow her time to heal.
I met with the MEC Ms S Mabe, HOD Dr S Kabane, hospital management and clinical staff to address issues relating to:
- risk factors that contributed to this criminal incident
- management issues relating to the hospital
- convey a message of support to the affected doctor, her family, colleagues and staff.
I had an interactive engagement with the hospital covering a number of areas mainly raised by the clinical staff, as well as met separately with the nursing staff of the hospital.
The discussion ranged from the need for the improvement in management processes (advertisement of posts, speedy filling up of the posts and filling up post with the correct candidates).
We also dealt with the improvement of the physical structure of hospital, provision of medical equipment, improvement of the ITC systems to enhance the clinical turnaround in order to receive laboratory tests result on time and easily access patient records.
We also had a discussion on the improvement of the safety in the hospital for both patients and staff, as well as the improvement of communication between hospital and MEC’s office.
The MEC reported that the incident had affected the staff morale but added that a number of corrective measures to guarantee the safety of all employees, patients and the community are being implemented.
I was encouraged by the province’s quick response. The MEC has committed to put the following measures in place:
- To double the deployment of 37 trained police reservists per shift to assist with implementing general security
- Access to the hospital will be strictly controlled during risk hours
- Visiting hours to the hospital will be strictly 10-11h00 hours, 15h00 - 16h00 hours and 19h00
- Improving of the management of the patient list and escorting of visitors to the wards
- Replacing locks and general security maintenance
- On-site contractors have also been engaged to discuss safety and security risks
- Contractors are on site to assist with the installation of the CCTV system
- Construction work to the tune of R120 million is in progress to upgrade the facility
- New CEO will start on 1 December 2010 who is a competent medical doctor with an MBA and experience on health systems management.
There is a need for effective partnership between management, clinical staff and HOD and MEC’s office. I would like to encourage unions to play a positive constructive role bearing in mind that they are representing the interest of staff across the board.
There is a need to improve turnaround times on a range of issues that need to be attended, and labour forums should be functional and report regularly on matters of concern to all.
The accreditation of the hospital should be done regularly in order to improve patient care. Joint monitoring and strengthening of accountability system should be done through a spirit of partnership.
For the National Health Insurance to be implemented successfully, the health system has to be managed effectively, there need to be proper quality assurance, and a strong primary healthcare system supported by the strong institutions like Pelonomi Hospital.
National and province will report regularly to all the parties on progress. We will work with the Department of Justice to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book and severely punished.
There can be no justification for this heinous crime other than brutality and extreme criminality.
Cell: 083 679 7424
Tel: 012 395 8835
Issued by: Department of Health
6 Nov 2010
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