The Kwazulu-Natal Health MEC, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, said that the contact details of all hospital chief executive officers, district directors, and those in charge of dispatching ambulances are to be made public.

“Why should I be the only one who gets phone calls in the middle of the night? If we are serious about being public servants, then we must all be accessible to the public,” said Simelane-Zulu.

She said that these changes were part of ensuring collective responsibility by senior management of the department. As part of this new shake-up, the MEC revealed that the department would redeploy office-based qualified doctors and nurses at head office, and across the province’s 11 health districts back into the field, to serve communities at hospitals and clinics.

While Simelane-Zulu acknowledged the changes were unlikely to make her popular in certain quarters, she said they were nevertheless crucial if the department is to run successfully.

“We have realised as a department that people do not have an understanding of where to go when they have challenges in our facilities. They do not have a good understanding of the complaints procedure. It does not help that some of us think that lodging a complaint amounts to making a nuisance of ourselves, rather than exercising a right,” she said.

“We are going to place adverts in the newspaper and on our online platforms with names and contact details of district managers, all facility managers, as well as those who manage our emergency medical service.

“What this will do is ensure that when there’s a challenge. The overall intention is to ensure that people have access to those who are responsible for managing. We must be able to work together. Managers are employed to manage. They are not there to be our friends.

“To manage is to be able to guide, but also ensure that there are consequences when your guidance is not being taken. If it means we must get refresher courses, then that’s what we must do. There are going to be consequences when things do not happen,” she said.