The Mahatma Gandhi Memorial hospital in Phoenix, Durban was a hive of activity last Friday as Minister for Public Service and Administration, Mr Roy Padayachie, paid the institution a surprise visit to inspect service delivery.
Accompanied by senior Department for Public Service and Administration (DPSA) and KwaZulu-Natal government officials, the Minister toured the hospital, carefully checking facilities in between interacting with members of the public, patients and employees on levels of service and employment conditions.
Both staff and patients were visibly pleasantly surprised by the Ministerís visit as he walked about interacting with them in the wards and waiting areas.
He later told a media briefing at the hospitalís premises that, while the visit formed part of a follow-up to a previous one, he had also been prompted by a telephonic call from a stranger complaining about a neighbour who was being denied treatment after being hit by a car.
The Minister said he had also come to check on whether recommendations made during the previous visit had been implemented.
He was generally impressed by maintenance and outpatient medicine dispensary albeit under trying conditions as the hospital was still taking a far higher number of patients on a daily basis than was originally planned for.
However, the ratio of one doctor per 500 patients per day was still putting doctors under tremendous pressure and resulting in waiting time still being grossly unacceptable.
"It must be borne in mind that our Performance Agreement with the President partly requires us to ensure improvement of waiting time by members of the public to access particular services.
"Apart from trying to get a sense of how our service is received by the public, this exercise is also a response to a call by the President for efficiency and active visibility," the Minister said.
The hospital also needed to accelerate recruitment processes to improve on filing and other urgent necessities.
"We will work together in all three spheres of government, the civil society and members of the public to ensure improvement in service delivery," he added.
A meeting with staff employees later provided them opportunity to air their views and concerns on their working conditions.
The whistle blower who called the Minister at night was later seen being interviewed by media and expressed his appreciation for the Ministerís heeding of his call.
"I appreciate the Ministerís intervention and believe his actions will lead to staff members changing their attitudes and behavior," he said.
Random visits of public service delivery points are a regular exercise by the Minister and or senior DPSA officials and will continue throughout the year in all provinces.Zingisile Mapazi