On 14 July 2021, Netcare issued a media statement advising that it had started a process of handing over operations at the Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital (QMMH) and its four primary care (filter) clinics in Maseru to the Government of Lesotho (GoL).
This was as a result of the public private partnership (PPP) agreement being prematurely terminated by the GoL, with effect from 31 August 2021. The handover of services at the QMMH and primary care clinics is being accelerated, and services have been downscaled, as the GoL has failed to pay the contracted unitary fees for the past five months.
During the handover process, Netcare and the Tšepong consortium (which is the principal contractor in the PPP agreement) have been in regular contact with representatives of the GoL. The consortium has informed representatives of the GoL concerning the timing of services being downscaled.
QMMH and maternity services at the primary care clinics remain functional and adequately resourced. All inpatient services are continuing, with patients only being discharged when it is appropriate and clinically safe. The QMMH is accepting urgent cases and emergencies, including obstetric emergencies at both QMMH and its filter clinics. Similarly, outpatient services at QMMH remain operational with medically unstable outpatients receiving treatment. Primary care facilities have been handed over to GoL, with these services now being provided by the GoL at the respective primary care clinics.
In a letter from the GoL, dated 23 July 2021, spurious allegations and factually incorrect statements have been made that Netcare and the consortium have abandoned health services at the QMMH and removed critical lifesaving equipment.
Netcare refutes these allegations in the strongest possible terms. Netcare wishes to reiterate that it will continue to act in good faith and is adhering to the provisions contained in the PPP agreement. Netcare values and upholds the sanctity of life and would never do anything to impinge on patient safety and care.
Netcare has on numerous occasions advised the GoL that only property belonging to Netcare, and which is not involved in providing patient care, has been removed in preparation for the handover. Accordingly, statements by GoL pertaining to the removal of equipment are incorrect.
The parties have agreed to the appointment of a monitoring team by GoL that is observing all activities on a daily basis. The monitoring team will, naturally, report any patient safety issues or unsolicited removal of any equipment or supplies. Neither Netcare nor the consortium have to date received any reports from the monitoring team of patient safety or equipment removal issues.
Considerable progress has been made to validate assets and stock as well as facility assessments in preparation for an orderly handover. Activities are being rescheduled to prioritise the handover, with due consideration to the GoL’s capacity, given that there are only six weeks remaining to complete the handover in an orderly manner.
The contractual transitioning of staff members has not commenced as GoL has yet to confirm when it will be issuing offer of employment letters in line with the provisions of the PPP agreement. Similarly, the GoL has not engaged with key supply chain members to agree on the continuation or termination of their service contracts.
The allegations against Netcare, including allegations of misconduct, are unsubstantiated, factually inaccurate and inflammatory. Netcare is confident that it continues to act in accordance with both the letter and spirit of the law, ethical corporate governance and the provisions of the PPP agreement and, if required, will defend its position in a court of law.
Netcare CEO, Dr Richard Friedland, commented, “In terms of the PPP agreement, Netcare, as the sub-contractor, is entitled to suspend its services due to a material default by the GoL, which in this case was triggered by its persistent lack of payment over the last five months. I wish to repeat that we have made it clear to all stakeholders that we remain resolute that the safety and care of patients will not be compromised”.
Issued by: MNA on behalf of Netcare
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Meggan Saville, Estene Lotriet-Vorster or
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
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