4 February 2013

South Africa: New Hospital CEOs Hit the Ground Running

Boksburg — Happy staff is the key to ensuring good patient care. This was the message given to 102 newly appointed hospital CEOs attending the country's inaugural orientation programme designed for this group.

The CEOs were appointed as part of the programme to overhaul and re-engineer the public health system, in accordance with the 10-point plan of the National Department of Health.

The 102 CEOs from central, tertiary, regional and district hospitals commenced work in their new positions on 1 February 2013, with the full support of the Academy for Leadership and Management in the Health Sector.

They will undergo a five-day orientation programme, which began today. The academy was launched by Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi in November 2012, under the auspices of the department and the minister's advisory committee.

The orientation programme seeks to inspire and encourage the new group of leaders, and identify the CEOs'expectations, needs and concerns. Best practices and experiences will be shared, as well as facilitating a process of planning, teamwork and support.

Sharing her experience from other parts of the world, CEO of Chelsea and Westminster NHS Trust, Heather Lawrence -- who has 23 years of experience as a CEO -- advised the new appointees to be very resilient as individuals, communicate well and stay focused.

"It's all about demonstrating a personal quality, continuing personal development, managing yourself and developing self-awareness ... Acting with integrity is the key.

"It's important to translate the objectives of the organisation and personal objectives. You have to learn to communicate in different ways," Lawrence said.

British High Commissioner Dame Brewer commended the department's 10-point plan, saying it was truly inspirational. She said in the UK, they were also looking at ways to up the quality of health care.

She said good leadership and governance would go a long way to creating hospitals that truly care for the community they service.

"In the UK, we learn from your [South Africa] experience in continuing transformation in the health care system, and we are looking forward to developing this healthy relationship with South Africa," said Brewer.

Motsoaledi said the CEOs had to find new ways of thinking to inspire new solutions that would resolve the problems faced by the health system.

"Management is not generic. You've got to know what you are managing and you've got to have the tools. We are going to work with you to ensure that we improve our health care system. We want you to share experiences on how it is done in other hospitals."

He, however, warned that if staff attitude was regarded as "rotten" by patients and the community, it was a poor reflection on the management.

"If your hospital is less than exemplary, I'll not blame ordinary people, but you."

Points one, four and five of the department's 10-point plan highlight a need to provide strategic leadership, overhaul the health care system and improve management as well as human resources planning, development and management.

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