Western Cape Health Complaints Commission: First Independent Body for Patients
The Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, today introduced the newly appointed Western Cape Health Independent Complaints Commission to the media.
This is a groundbreaking moment for public healthcare in the Western Cape. It is the first time that an independent body has been established to deal with patients' complaints about the quality of care they receive.
The introduction of the Commission members follows the announcement of its establishment on 30 September this year. Members were nominated after a call for nominations through advertisements in daily, regional and community newspapers.
The Commission consists of thirteen (13) members, representing a host of stakeholder groups, including medicine, nursing, the legal fraternity, public health and public health management, and representation for the metropole and rural areas.
This commission is appointed for a period of one year. The Minister and Head of Department will review the efficiency of the Commission on an annual basis.
The appointed member representing Medicine is Professor Wynand van der Merwe, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Stellenbosch.
The three members representing Nursing are:
- Ms. Willemina Nieuwoudt. She retired last year as head of Nursing at Karl Bremer Hospital, and served for ten (10) years as a board member of the South African Nursing Council.
- Ms. Mandisa Molusi. She is a trained Primary Health Care nurse with work experience in different hospitals. In the past ten (10) years she has facilitated Batho Pele training seminars for a range of government departments.
- Ms. Ansie Viljoen. She was nursing manager of three Medi-Clinic hospitals - George, Geneva Clinic and Neuro-Clinic, with experience of disciplinary processes and legal actions.
The member representing the legal fraternity is Advocate Doctor Patrick van den Heever. He is an advocate of the High Court of South Africa and member of the Cape bar, and well-respected for his in-depth knowledge of the legal aspects of the medico legal field.
Dr. Zameer Brey is the member representing Public Health Management. He has been a process analyst at Groote Schuur Hospital since 2008, and at present he is completing his PhD on health systems management.
The three members representing the Metropole are:
- Ms. Mercia Isaacs. She is currently the chairperson of the GF Jooste Hospital Facility Board, and recently appointed to the Health Professionals Council of South Africa.
- Mr. Ronald Lockwood. He is a member of the Professional Conduct Committee of the Health Professions Council of South Africa. Before his early retirement, he worked for Eskom as an authorized coach and organised labour representative.
- Mr. Neville Hitchcock. He is Disaster and Emergency Relief Services coordinator for the Western Cape, and also chairperson of the Goodwood Health and Welfare Committee.
The three members for rural areas are:
- Ms. Kaye Koekemoer. As a qualified occupational health nurse, she has vast experience working in rural health facilities, both private and public. She has first-hand experience of health systems management.
- Ms. Belinda Ameterra. She is a founder member of the SANTA regional office in Worcester, and well-known and respected for her leading role in community and social upliftment projects.
- Mr. John Levendal. A former teacher for thirty (30) years, he is the founder of the Hex Valley Health Forum, and closely involved in farm worker issues, and a councilor for the region.
The last commission member represents the Western Cape Department of Health, Mr. Zee Brickles. He is the deputy director: Licensing and Inspectorate.
Minister Botha said that he was encouraged by the range of expertise and experience among the members of the Commission. "By establishing an independent Commission to investigate complaints, we are ushering in a new era in the handling of health clients' grievances. The establishment of the Commission is an acknowledgment that although there are existing channels for dissatisfied clients to seek redress, these do not always meet the expectations of an independent assessment of the complaint."
The Commission will function as an independent and objective body where the Minister or Head of Department can refer complaints when the existing structures have not resolved complaints to the satisfaction of the complainant. It will meet monthly to investigate complaints.
Background: Independent Complaints Commission to Attend to Unresolved Patient Grievances
The establishment of an Independent Complaints Commission by the Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, was announced at a press conference on 30 September 2010. It was the introduction of a new era into the handling of health clients aggrieved by inadequate service delivery at any of the department's facilities.
Botha said, "I have committed my term as provincial Health Minister to open up channels and to create an environment of transparency for our patients. I have set out to improve the overall experience at health facilities - from shortening the queues to upgrading the buildings and setting up free-flowing communication channels that work. The establishment of the Independent Complaints Commission is a milestone on this road.
"In the past two (2) years fifty-six (56) legal claims have been lodged against the Department. At present we are dealing with a total of ninety-nine (99) active claims, of which thirteen (13) are considered to be indefensible. To me this was evidence enough to justify the establishment of an independent body to investigate complaints made by patients. At first we looked into the option of an ombudsman, but after thorough investigation, there was a stronger argument for an Independent Commission."
The Commission will function as an independent and objective body where the Minister or Head of Department can refer complaints when the existing structures have not resolved complaints to the satisfaction of the complainant.
The Head of the Western Cape Department of Health, Prof. Craig Househam, said: "The Department welcomes the establishment of the Commission. The independent body will enable the Department to be held accountable for services and to promote quality service for our patients. It is important to note that the function will not be located with the Minister per se, but within the auspices of the Minister and the Head of the Department."
Minister Botha said: "The establishment of this commission is an acknowledgment that although there are existing channels for dissatisfied clients to seek redress, these do not always meet the expectations of an independent assessment of the complaint."
The procedures for the submission of complaints include that there must be supporting documentation that shows that all other internal complaint procedures have been exhausted.
Western Cape Minister of Health
Western Cape Ministry of Health
Tel: 021 483 4426
Cell: 082 771 8834
Fax: 021 483 4143