The net is fast closing in on doctors abusing and defrauding the overtime system, the Department of Health and Social Development said on Monday.
According to MEC, Ntombi Mekgwe, this was part of a comprehensive turnaround strategy to improve financial management and instituting measures to prevent a recurrence of the financial difficulties in health.
“As part of ensuring discipline and managing overtime, we are in the process of disciplining nine doctors who claimed excessive overtime from the department.
“Our investigation has shown that some of these doctors claimed to have worked overtime in hospitals where they are not employed,” Mekgwe told journalists during a post-State of the Province Address media briefing in Johannesburg.
Mekgwe said some doctors who worked at Pholosong claimed to have worked overtime at Natalspruit and Kopanong hospitals.
“Evidence shows that these doctors have no permission to work overtime in the hospitals they claimed to have worked at. A review analysis was done of the number of hours claimed by doctors, and it was found that many doctors claimed 290 hours for weekday and weekends. This means that the doctor claimed for 20 consecutive days,” she said.
She noted that action had been taken against those doctors who have claimed fraudulently.
Charge sheets have been issued to the doctors and disciplinary hearings were scheduled for this week. However, it seems the hearings would not take place this week as those charged had requested additional time for preparation.
Furthermore, Mekgwe said some doctors worked in the private sector without the approval of the department.
“We will be paying attention to this because they do so during the time that they are supposed to be working in state hospitals.
“We have been told by junior doctors that they often have to work without supervision because the senior doctors are doing private work. We think this is unethical, unacceptable and it must come to an end,” she said.
She said as part of turning things around in the department, they would take steps to contain costs and eliminate wastage.
To this end, the department is to introduce an electronic gate keeping system to manage tests that are ordered from the National Health Laboratory Services. This system will be introduced in 20 hospitals throughout the province.
“We are currently piloting the system at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic hospital and we are encouraged by the results,” she said.
Since the start of the pilot late last year, Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic hospital has been able to save R40 000 a month in unnecessary tests. The system has also enabled the hospital to identify which doctors are ordering what kind of tests for which patients.