Western Cape MPLs not necessary for health boards to function
By Mwangi Githahu 45m ago
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Cape Town – The Health MEC has the discretion to decide whether or not to appoint members of the provincial legislature (MPLs) to health facility boards, but their appointment was not a necessity for the legal constitution of such boards.
The issue of the nomination and appointment of MPLs to hospital boards came up in a follow-up briefing of the standing committee on health on the implementation of the Western Cape Health Facility Boards and Committees Act.
Last year during a committee briefing on the topic, members asked the legislature's legal adviser Romeo Maasdorp for a legal opinion on the appointments of MPLs to the various hospital boards.
On Wednesday, Maasdorp said: “I am of the view that it is very much at the discretion of the Health MEC as to whether or not to appoint members of the provincial legislature (MPLs) as members of provincial hospital boards.”
“It is not necessary for an MPL to be appointed to a board for it to be properly and legitimately constituted as per the act; such an appointment is simply at the discretion of the MEC.”
Departmental chief director for strategy and health support Dr Krish Vallabhjee said the overall purpose of the boards was to ensure accountability of the health facility management to the community and responsiveness to the needs of patients and their families.
Vallabhjee said the department acknowledged the importance of having community support and buy-in when it came to health initiatives.
“Some implementation challenges have been experienced by the department in getting board and clinic committees off the ground. These challenges were brought about by waning interest in volunteering in some communities. There were also challenges when it came to appointing councillors, and here the lack of remuneration was seen as a disincentive,” said Vallabhjee.
Committee members Ricardo Mackenzie (DA) and Rachel Windvogel (ANC) wanted to know about the functionality of the boards across the province.
Vallabhjee said: “There should be a total of 45 functional boards in the province. As the situation stands, currently there are 33 functional boards and of these 14 are in the metro and 19 are rural. There are a further four boards that have been constituted but are not functional, and of these three are in the metro and one is in a rural district. “
“There are also eight other boards that need to be constituted and brought to functionality. Of these, two are in the metro and there are six rural ones,” said Vallabhjee.
Committee chairperson Wendy Philander said: “I need to point out that I am concerned and disappointed in terms of the functionality of the boards. We all know the importance of these structures within various communities and their role to better the health-care service in the province.”