DFSC finds fault with military hospitals


The three SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) hospitals do not perform as they should, the Defence Force Service Commission (DFSC) maintains.

A number of Commission findings and recommendations were tabled by SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Chief Director: Human Resources Vice Admiral Asiel Kubu at a recent Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) meeting.

The DFSC recommendations are based on findings regarding, among others, the state of military messes and hospitals; occupational health and safety issues; security at SANDF bases and facilities; command and control; policies and instructions; discipline; education, training and development (ETD); deployments, internal and continental; and equipment to “do the job”.

1 Mil in Thaba Tshwane is the site of what the JSCD in September called “an unending repair and maintenance programme (RAMP)”. To date the programme, ostensibly to upgrade facilities at what was seen as a premier military hospital, has seen more than R1 billion spent without any appreciable improvement.

On 1 Mil as regards repairs, maintenance and upgrading, the DFSC noted “effectiveness, flow of work and office space is seriously disadvantaged by the RAMP”.

3 Mil at Tempe outside Bloemfontein has, according to the DFSC, seen its RAMP deteriorate. “Centralisation of all decision-taking in the DOD/SANDF is seriously hampering the ability of 3 Mil Hospital to run an efficient and effective patient care service,” the DFSC presentation read.

It recommends funding allocated to Minister Patricia de Lille’s Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) be “returned to the Department of Defence (DoD)” and continuing RAMP work be undertaken by the Defence Works Formation.

Another DFSC finding at 3 Mil has it “the project to service and repair the entire air-conditioning system to ensure effective infection control and a positive working environment is unknown”.

Other Commission findings on the three military hospitals concern vacant posts; the “absence and lack of” doctors and registered nurses; use of inexperienced medical officers (junior or entry level) and ongoing delays in payment of healthcare related goods and services, including for ICU at 2 Mil in Wynberg, Cape Town. The Commission notes this contravenes the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and importantly from a patient point of view “causes refusal or delayed treatment”.

This issue is not new having been reported to and on by the DFSC as far back as 2014.