Where's Mama Action?
Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane yesterday admitted that her intervention was needed in dealing with health services crises.
She had been asked by Gauteng DA leader Jack Bloom why she responded to health service problems only after media reports about them.
Speaking in the provincial legislature, Bloom said: "You have a reputation as 'Mama Action', but when it comes to the crisis in our hospitals you only get involved when it hits the front pages of our newspapers, as in the case when you visited Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.
"So, I need to ask you today, why you only seemingly react to bad publicity and you ignored earlier appeals from doctors at this hospital and other indications of the general crisis in our hospitals?"
Mokonyane met senior doctors at Charlotte Maxeke on August 15, a day after The Times reported that severe staff shortages and a moratorium on hiring doctors was crippling the hospital - medical students were working in the trauma units and liver transplants were put on hold from September.
Other problems in Gauteng health this year included unpaid suppliers, radiation machines used in the treatment of cancer being broken and seven power-cuts at Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital, Soweto.
Mokonyane denied that only bad publicity spurred her to action.
"Even with Charlotte Maxeke, it was not about the issue that came out. We have a turn-around plan for Charlotte Maxeke.
"When these issues came out, we had to engage with clinicians; we had to engage [on] why had things not been implemented - including with management. That is the reason we went to Charlotte Maxeke.
"The work we are currently doing doesn't appear in the media. That is an unfortunate fact."
But Bloom hit back.
"You do get involved. You got involved in Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital when there were power failures last year. But this year there have been seven," he said.
He whipped out a camping light, put it on his head and asked her why doctors had to come to work with camping equipment.
Mokonyane said that public facility managers were being hired at hospitals so that the health department did not have to rely only on the public works department for maintenance.
Health MEC Hope Papo leapt to the premier's defence and said more money was needed to tackle "historical health problems".