Gauteng health dept takes firm stance on overtime management

Pretoria – Gauteng Health MEC Hope Papo says the department will not allow the abuse of overtime by health professionals.

"The only 'looming crisis' at Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital is only in the minds of those who want government to turn a blind eye to the abuse of overtime and getting less value for public money," Papo told journalists who quizzed him on the allegations that some doctors have threatened to leave the department.

According to the journalists, some doctors at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital have warned of a "looming crisis" as they are threatening the department with resignations. This after the department tightened its controls around overtime and the granting of permission to healthcare workers to do Remunerative Work Outside of the Public Service (RWoPS).

"One of the priorities in the 10-Point Plan is overhauling the healthcare system and improve its management," Papo explained.

"This means ensuring that government gets value for its money and we therefore cannot allow healthcare professionals to be paid for not being at work."

The Gauteng Health Department decided to strengthen the management of overtime and RWoPS following evidence that many professionals were abusing these. The professionals involved are full time employees of the department, who are expected to be at work for all paid hours, including commuted overtime in the case of clinicians.

However, the department said many were demanding overtime and also that they be given permission to leave their work posts and work for remuneration elsewhere whilst receiving full pay from government.

Ndoda Biyela, acting Head of Health, explained that the department engaged hospital CEOs and Clinical Managers to look at ways of strengthening the management of overtime and RWoPS.

A collective decision was that stricter control measures were needed. These include ensuring full allocation of healthcare professionals for the time they are paid so that there is full coverage of all areas of healthcare delivery at all times, making sure that patient care is not compromised.

"Once all healthcare professionals have been fully allocated for their paid time, including commuted overtime, we would then consider approving appropriate option for overtime," said Biyela.

Overtime, said Biyela, was not a condition of service or an entitlement “but an instrument to compensate for shortages where a need arises”.

“The department will not backtrack on strengthening healthcare management including demanding value for public money and tightening internal controls for effective management of all its employees," he said. –