Staff at the Sarah Fox Children’s Convalescent Hospital protested on Monday after their service contract with the provincial Department of Health was terminated.
According to the facility manager, who did not want to be named, the health department has based its decision on a dysfunctional board and the fact that one of the board members had been withdrawing R50 000 from the children’s trust every month.
Spokesman for the Department of Health, Mark van der Heever, said the challenges with the corporate governance at the facility had been identified but did not specify what these challenges were.
He said ongoing attempts to resolve the situation had failed.
The facility manager said she feared for the health of the 40 children which the hospital takes care of as the morale of the nursing staff was low.
The children’s hospital, based in Athlone, received R980 000 from the department which they use to pay salaries and for the basic needs of the children and facility.
“This has been a problem since 2013. There are only two people on the board and only one is being recognised as a board member and both of them are overseas,” she said.
She said the last payment from the department will be made at the end of the month.
“These (challenges) were raised and discussed with the management of Sarah Fox. The district office also put in remedial actions to address these challenges – but they could not be resolved completely. These included corporate governance aspects which the institution (Sarah Fox) did not comply with.”
Mr Van der Heever said the non-profit organisation which bore the Sarah Fox name ran the convalescent service at the hospital and was “funded as a provincial-aided hospital”.
When the department’s “remedial actions” failed, the contract with Sarah Fox was terminated and given to another service provider which Mr Van Der Heever said he could not disclose the name of.
“A call for a proposal was advertised and the process concluded in June this year. Sarah Fox management was informed of the outcome in July. Sarah Fox will continue to render health services to the patients until the end of August whereafter the new contract with the new service provider will commence on September 1,” he said.
The same services at the hospital would continue, he said, but under the new provider’s name.
“Concerted efforts are being made by the district office to avoid job losses by providing the Sarah Fox employees with new job opportunities at other NPOs,” he said.