Crisis-ridden BLH workers go unpaid

Bamalete Lutheren Hospital PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Bamalete Lutheren Hospital PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO

A delay in the release of funding by government has worsened the Bamalete Lutheran Hospital (BLH) workers’ financial crisis with reports that they (workers) will go unpaid for April.

The hospital has been making headlines for issues of mismanagement, maladministration, some workers being suspended, shortage of food and medication amongst other matters.

This week the Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Alfred Madigele confirmed that there is delay in the release of funds from the ministry as the financial year has just started. 

“Please be informed that the salaries of April 2019 are delayed. This is due to delays in funds from Ministry of Health and Wellness.  The hospital management would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused by this unfortunate situation,” a memo signed by the acting hospital superintendent, Dr Tshibelu Mwanza states. 

Government gives the hospital a grant of more than P14 million every year.

Madigele said some internal processes did not go well and therefore that alone affected the transfer of funds from the ministry to BLH.

“The ministry is trying its best to resolve the problem, but I cannot state the time frame when the funds will be transferred to BLH. I have been having meetings with hospital management regarding the issue of maladministration and other things, but our problem is that the government does not own the hospital. The ministry and the real owners of BLH (in Germany) are meeting on May 14 (2019) to discuss the issue of forensic audit and other things,” Madigele said.

Mmegi has learnt that one of the issues at the top of the agenda is the possibility of taking over the hospital by government and actions regarding the outcome of the forensic audit.

Recently patients were being fed sub-standard food and medicines are running short at the hospital where a recent audit found no trace of P16 million, which disappeared while in the hands of management.

Highly-placed sources have told Mmegi in the midst of the administrative and financial crisis that eight doctors threw in the towel last year, as well as a radiologist. Workers claim they are owed up to P3 million in cumulative unpaid salaries, with some of these amounts going back to 2010. One employee, according to authoritative sources is owed P202,000 in salary arrears.

Mmegi is informed that after years of late payments and salary arrears, disgruntled employees have since written to the Office of the President and the board pleading for intervention. 

A Deloitte audit handed to the board last October, paints a picture of gross maladministration at the hospital in which at least P16 million, covering 120 transactions, could not be accounted for. 

“The board had wanted the audit report to be shared with the workers, but management refused,” an insider told Mmegi on condition of anonymity.

The troubles have also rocked the upper echelons at the hospital, with two members of management still on suspension. BLH CEO, Moagi Mmitsi and School of Nursing principal Martha Mothibe were suspended last year.“The board is negotiating for mutual separation from them,” revealed one insider.

A hospital superintendent engaged at the hospital last year was given six months’ probation. The board refused to confirm him after the period and the candidate has since left the hospital.

With the financial situation at the BLH declining, it is reported that the eight doctors that resigned left last December, leaving only four. The hospital has since appointed four other doctors on a temporary basis.

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