The provincial health department has set aside R300-million to fill more than 1800 critical posts.
The positions include doctors and nurses, as well as specialists for maternity sections in 26 identified hospitals, including the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha, Frere and Cecilia Makiwane in East London, and Livingstone Hospital in Port Elizabeth.
Health provincial spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said the “R300-million was allocated to the department to assist with human resource improvements in order to assist about 26 hospitals across the province which were soft targets of medico-legal claims”.
Kupelo said the recruitment process for the hundreds of health workers is aimed at boosting service and has already begun.
The department posted more vacancies on its website earlier this month, which would close tomorrow.
These include 38 nursing posts for Frere Hospital, nine medical doctors for Mthatha Hospital, radiographers for Cathcart, Tafalofefe and Bedford hospitals, as well as heads of clinical units for Mthatha, Livingstone and clinical managers for Cala, Glen Grey and St Patrick’s hospitals.
Kupelo said Butterworth Hospital, for example, had five doctors but from the beginning of this month, 19 more doctors have been hired.
The hospital also recruited 40 more nurses and it is busy recruiting occupational therapists to boost the quality of its service.
As part of the plan, 500 nursing assistants would also be hired and placed at these identified hospitals.
Health MEC Dr Phumza Dyantyi and the head of her department, superintendent-general Dr Thobile Mbengashe, presented a detailed report at a cabinet lekgotla that ended on Saturday at Mpekweni Resort.
Premier Phumulo Masualle’s spokesman Sonwabo Mbananga said the plan to enhance human resources, specifically at maternity wards and child health centres, is designed partly to help curb the hefty medico-legal bill.
“We have established that a lot of the litigation cases happen when mothers are in labour, so we said instead of continuing paying out settlements due to negligence, we must instead boost the capacity of our hospitals in these areas.”
Mbananga said there are currently 88 cases involving claims that amount to R1.7-billion.
“Of these cases, 24 are still under review because of incomplete details while 10 more have since been withdrawn,” he said.
Five cases have been referred to the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) as the department suspects that the claims are fraudulent.
Kupelo said: “We are after the law firms that have been defrauding the department by duplicating claims or submitting fraudulent claims – possibly through collusion with corrupt elements within the system.”