Efforts to right military health service on the way


Sweeping changes, including appointing doctors and payment of outstanding overtime, will be implemented at the earliest opportunity in an all-out effort to restore the defence force’s healthcare system back to full health.

This is according to Johannesburg Afrikaans daily, Beeld. Reporting on the outcome of an investigation into the SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) by a ministerially appointed task team under the leadership of Professor William Makgoba, vice chancellor of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the paper said regression as far as service delivery in SAMHS was concerned could be laid at the door of human resource management. This is because vacancies were not being filled. Other problem areas are the refurbishment and upgrading programmes at the SA National Defence Force’s (SANDF) three military hospitals and what the paper termed “negative personnel growth”.

The team was initially tasked with investigating ways of improving service at military hospitals in Thaba Tshwane, Cape Town and Bloemfontein. Its mandate was then extended to include sick bays and other military health facilities at bases in South Africa as well as where soldiers are deployed on both border protection and as part of UN or hybrid AU/UN peacekeeping missions in Africa.

The report links poor service at military hospitals to the lack of medical personnel and, Beeld noted, 28 doctors and specialists will be “speedily appointed” in this regard. These appointments should have been finalised eight months ago. According to the Department of Defence head of communications, Siphiwe Dlamini, 11 doctors have been appointed since September and selection boards meet regularly to finalise further appointments.

The salaries of doctors in SAMHS will be adjusted to bring them in line with those paid in other government departments.

The task team also found contractors appointed by the Department of Public Works (DPW) for refurbishment and upgrading work at 1 Military Hospital in Thaba Tshwane were not performing satisfactorily. The team has recommended the SANDF Works Formation takes over with the first floor of the flagship military hospital as a trial project before commencing with the remainder of the work. The formation will be advised by the CSIR on the work to be done, the paper said.