As part of its constitutional mandate, the KZN Legislature through its Health Portfolio Committee visited Usher Memorial and St Margaret Hospitals on Wednesday, 16th November 2016 to inspect the provision of health services in Harry Gwala District.
The delegation was led by Hon. Bhamjee, the chairperson of Health committee. This was a follow up visit after the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) had been to Harry Gwala District in September as part of the NCOP Provincial Week. NCOP Members had visited the district to track and evaluate the levels of service delivery in KwaZulu-Natal particularly in health and education.
The Health Portfolio Committee held a series of boardroom and site meetings where the district and hospital management reported on various challenges and successes in the provision of health services in the district. The state of the two hospitals was applauded in terms of cleanliness, staff compliment, as well as the standard of service that is provided to the people of Harry District. This is in spite of the challenges such as inadequate budget, human resources and medical equipment.
Several recommendations were made by the NCOP to the MEC of Health, Dr Dhlomo on matters of importance and how such challenges could be addressed. The committee was informed of the common challenges in the district which include the shortage of doctors in rural hospitals, lack of proper sanitation, infrastructure, shortage of EMRS ambulances, and the latest challenge of drought that is facing the entire country.
The Health Portfolio Committee visited the district to monitor the implementation of recommendations and short-term solutions that were proposed by the NCOP in September. However, the committee expressed its disappointment at the slow pace in implementing the recommendations of the NCOP, especially on short term solutions like the drilling of boreholes for water supply. The committee also noted that not much has been done on improving hospital infrastructure since the last NCOP Provincial week.
Hospital management made an undertaking to address these issues without any further delays and that the Department of Health would report before the committee on its intervention plan to address these challenge. Guided by the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) the committee also scrutinised how hospital finances were being managed including budget allocations for short and long term projects as it was resolved during the NCOP week.