17 January 2013

South Africa: CEOs Appointed At Hospitals

Pretoria — In achieving government's plan to improve hospital management, the Department of Health has announced the appointment of 102 CEOs at public hospitals across the country.

This follows massive recruitment drive, where a total of 92 posts for hospital CEOs were advertised by the department and 30 advertised at provincial level for convenience.

The appointments came after the release of two documents in August 2011, which hoped to start the process to overhaul the healthcare system in the country and improve its management.

The first document was a Green paper on the National Health Insurance (NHI) - a financing system that will make sure that all citizens of South Africa (and legal long-term residents) are provided with essential healthcare. The second document was a Government Gazette re-designating all the hospitals in the country into five different categories, with a new category of central hospitals was introduced.

Announcing the criteria used in appointing the CEOs, Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi on Thursday highlighted that, as provided by the gazette, the basic requirement was that whatever the qualifications of the individuals were, they had to as a priority be a health worker and have at least five years' experience in middle or top management in the healthcare system.

"The Gazette provides for the level at which each category of hospital should be managed, for example, all the central hospitals are to be managed by a person at the level of the Deputy Director-General and not lower than that," Dr Motsoaledi noted.

Dr Motsoaledi disagreed with the view by some that CEOs should be managed by a person with a business background, emphasising that one had to be a health worker in order to understand what's happening in the hospital.

"All our studies found that managers with some health qualifications score higher on the competency assessment than managers with no health qualifications, Hospitals with clinically qualified managers are associated with much better management scores," he noted.

He added that the recruitment process had been difficult as they were looking for the highest quality. In some instances, they spent about 11 hours interviewing the candidates but ended up not appointing as no candidate was found to be appropriate.

"We would then start a process of head hunting and invited the head hunted individuals to come for interviews, but still up to today, there are hospitals where we could not as yet appoint, and the head hunting process continues," he said.

The Eastern Cape has not yet started the process for district hospitals as they were still re-categorising their hospitals as they were the most complex countrywide. The Free State had to postpone because when the process started, the provincial Health MEC passed away.

Dr Motsoaledi said head hunting for 16 unfilled posts was still continuing. Regarding unsuccessful candidates, who were managing the hospitals and didn't get the job, Motsoaledi assured that no one was going to be fired. "It was not a process to fire people. They will remain at the level they are."

All CEOs are appointed with effect from 1 February 2013, and will start with training at the Academy of Health and Leadership Management, where they would be taught the responsibilities and functions of a CEO of a hospital. The remaining 16 posts will be filled as soon as suitable people are found.

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