The panel was made up of Elaine Brass, Acting CEO of the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA); breast cancer expert, Professor Carol-Ann Benn; Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (HOSPERSA) spokesperson, Fazeela Fayers; and Gauteng Department of Health practitioner,Dr Ntsakisi Masinga.
“We are in the business of ensuring people are taken care of – NHI is a discourse that we cannot run away from,” Dr Masinga said. As Gauteng is the economic hub, medical practitioners service patients from around the country. “We know if people are not healthy, it affects different parts of their lives,” she added.The challenges facing the medical community in implementing NHI include “budget, working conditions, skills and poverty and rural access to health services,” stated
Ms Brass of the Health and Welfare SETA.Public opinion has included complaints of the NHI already running overtime and fears of who will foot the bill. “Rome wasn’t built in one day. In the UK it took 200 years and it is still not perfect,” Dr Masinga commented. She echoed the sentiments of many when she added, “Government needs to discuss where is the money going to come from”.
“There is a lot of money in our country – it is how we have utilised it, which is the problem. There is not one of us who would mind contributing extra to this cause, which is a basic right. We don’t mind paying,” Ms Brass said during the discussion. “The private sector is worried that it will get more patients, at a fraction of the money seen before,” Dr Masinga added.
“I propose that we talk about public-private partnerships,” Ms Fayers stated. Professor Benn added to this, “You have to understand the value of people. It must be people-based and performance-managed and be about equality. My porters and cleaners have equal status in my unit. The only way we can get NHI to work is to do that. We need doctors and nurses and admin to be performance-managed,” she felt.Public perception should also be improved. “There are many pockets of excellence and we don’t put them out there. People are not aware of the good that we do,” Dr Masinga felt. “We need a communication strategy. Which newspaper will publish a good story?” Ms Fayers added.
“Let’s inspire and change the perception of what’s happening in our healthcare sector,” Professor Benn felt and concluded, “Health care is all about education – let’s educate and push it forward.”