17 January 2013

South Africa: Bulk of Hospital CEO Posts Filled

The health minister has announced that 102 hospital CEO posts have been filled with a drive to recruit top candidates for the remaining 16 unfilled posts. Read the minister's full statement here.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for coming. I called you here to give you an update of what we have done in respect of filling vacant positions for the Chief Executive officer’s positions in our hospitals. At any rate, many of you have been impatiently enquiring about these appointments since the beginning of the year.

I wish to inform you that this process is not something that started overnight and it was not a knee-jerk response to our problems, it was a well-thought of process, well researched and following all the laws of the country and procedures in labour processes.

Let me take you back to a day in August 2011. On that particular day we issued two very far-reaching documents that we hoped will start the process to overhaul the whole healthcare system and improve its management. You will realise that this item number 4 of the 10-point programme which was even adopted by Parliament as early as 2009.

The first document is a Green Paper on NHI. The second one was a Government Gazette redesignating all the hospitals in the country into 5 different categories. In this instance a new category was introduced, that of the Central Hospitals.

The Gazette provided for the type of hospital manager that must be appointed to manage our hospitals. It clearly stated that the basic requirement is that whatever the qualifications of an individual are, they must first and foremost be a health worker. Secondly, they must at least have 5 years experience in middle and top management of healthcare system. And lastly it provides for the level at which each category of hospital should be managed, e.g all the Central Hospitals are to be managed by a person at the level of the Deputy Director-General and not lower than that.

Using these criteria it means then that quite a number of posts in hospitals had to be advertised because either they were vacant or there was an acting manager or more importantly the incumbent did not meet the required criteria as mentioned above.

Early last year we embarked on a massive recruitment drive and a total of 92 posts for hospital CEO’s were advertised by the NDoH, and 30 were advertised at provincial level for convenience.

International research and our own assessment

The decision to embark on this process was influenced by international best practice studies on public health hospital management and our own DBSA commissioned study. General, it has been found that hospital-specific management practices are strongly related to a hospital’s quality of patient care and productivity outcomes. Improved management practices in hospitals are associated with significantly lower mortality rates and better financial performance.

The qualifications and experience of CEOs plays a major role at how a hospital is run.

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

We want to state that this recruitment was a very difficult process because we were looking for the best quality. So in some instances we would interview for many hours on end but end up not appointing because nobody was found to be appropriate. We would then start a process of head-hunting and invite the head-hunted individuals to come for interviews. Hence this process took much longer than expected. But still up to today there are hospitals where we could not as yet appoint, and the head-hunting process continues. It won’t be wrong for you to advertise for us in your papers “wanted – best hospital CEO”.


So, as of today, we have filled 102 posts and we are head-hunting for 16 CEOs. The Eastern Cape has not yet started this process for District Hospitals because they were still re-categorising their hospitals as they were the most complex in the whole country.

All the CEOs are appointed with effect from the 1st February 2013 and will start with training at the Academy of Health and Leadership Management.

I thank you

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