South Africa Government

11/17/2023 | Press release | Archived content

MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko: Launch of I Serve with a Smile campaign

Speech by the MEC of Health and Wellness, Ms Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko at the launch of I Serve with a Smile campaign at Rhema Bible Church, Randburg

Programme Director
Acting Head of Department, Mr Lesiba Malotana, Gauteng health team,
Distinguished guests, Members of the media,

Good afternoon

Today marks a momentous occasion as we come together to launch an initiative that holds the potential to transform the face of public health in Gauteng Province.

It has been quite a journey to get to this moment. The healthcare system has been under tremendous scrutiny and at times even those that are our most ardent supporters have questioned our resolve to change things for the better.

Programme Director,

Any genuine journey of transformation will always be riddled with birth pangs. Often the old must give up to the new. In other times, the old must embrace the new. And sometimes the new must align with the old. It is like a Metamorphosis where a butterfly
undergoes a series of major changes in its body form as it moves through its life cycle. The launch today is but another critical cycle in the journey of our transformation as the healthcare system. Something beautiful is being born at this moment. The old culture of poor disinterested service is giving way to a new culture of optimistic and enthusiastic service.

I Serve With A Smile Campaign

Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great excitement and eagerness that we officially launch the "I Serve with a Smile" campaign - a movement that will infuse our healthcare system with warmth, compassion, and a renewed commitment to the public service. This initiative is aimed at improving the patient experience of care and restore the once-renowned reputation of our healthcare system. Through this campaign, we want to create a culture of empathy and compassion that permeates every aspect of our healthcare delivery. The "I Serve With A Smile" campaign is built upon the principles of Batho Pele. As healthcare workers, each one of us has the responsibility to create an environment where patients feel valued, respected, and supported whenever they visit our facilities.

Programme Director,

In the past, the Gauteng Department of Health held the status of being regarded as a jewel of public health in South Africa. However, over the past few years, we have witnessed a decline in our healthcare system, which has had a direct impact on patient experience of care. For instance, in the second quarter of the 2023/24 financial year, our health facilities recorded over 700 complaints from patients, their families and the public. Factors such as low staff morale have contributed to this decline. This is very concerning.
It is time for us to address these challenges head-on and reclaim our position as leaders in healthcare provision in the public sector. We have the responsibility to restore our healthcare system to its former glory and reaffirm our commitment to provide quality services to our residents. The launch of the "I Serve with a Smile" campaign demonstrates our dedication to improve the patient experience of care in our hospitals, clinics and community health centres across the province. This campaign is an intervention to address staff attitude as well as bolster morale among healthcare workers and ultimately reduce patient dissatisfaction and complaints.

Through this initiative, we want to emphasise the crucial role that a smile can play in healthcare delivery. A smile is a powerful tool that can alleviate fear, ease pain, and provide comfort to those who are vulnerable and in need. We ought to remember that the heart of the health profession lies in serving and caring for our patients.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to take this opportunity to call upon all healthcare professionals to embrace the "I Serve With a Smile" campaign wholeheartedly. Join the movement and pledge to approach your work with a smile, enthusiasm, empathy, and a friendly demeanour. Let us join hands to create a welcoming and supportive environment for our patients.

However, I want to emphasise that serving patients with a smile is not limited to the nurses or doctors in our hospitals, community healthcare centres, and clinics. It also applies to all of us who are part of the Gauteng Department of Health's ecosystem.

From the security officers at the main entrance to the administration officers who assist patients with their files, from the cleaners who maintain a clean and safe environment to the medical team who provide medical care, and even to the pharmacists who issue medication, we all have a role to play in improving the patient experience of care. If one team member drops the ball the other must pick it up. We all need to show up and
make our presence count. Together, we can restore Gauteng's public healthcare system to its former glory and ensure that every patient receives the care that they deserve.

May this campaign be a friendly reminder that our work is not just a profession; it is a calling - a calling to serve, to heal, and to make a positive impact in the lives of others. By serving with a smile, we exemplify the very essence of our noble profession and reaffirm our commitment to the well-being of the citizens of Gauteng residents, at whose pleasure we serve.

Skills development and employment opportunities

Programme Director, we are aware that the shortage or insufficient number of staff in our healthcare facilities can significantly contribute to low staff morale in several ways. Our healthcare workers may sometimes experience increased workload which can lead to fatigue, burnout, and a sense of being overwhelmed, ultimately affecting morale.

To address this challenge, we have embraced the Gauteng Provincial Government's "Nasi iSpani" programme aimed at addressing unemployment and promoting access to job opportunities available within the Provincial Government. I am happy to announce that during the current 2023/2024 financial year, the Gauteng Department of Health has employed over 15 000 people across various disciplines. Whether it be admin staff, allied professionals, allied support staff, clinical professionals, engineering professionals, management professionals or nursing professionals, including SMS members, we have prioritised the filling of vacant posts even within the current environment of fiscal constraints.

Today we have in our midst a number of people that we will symbolically hand letters of appointments to, these colleagues are part of people that we just appointed in contributing to the Nasi iSpani campaign.

Impact Career Fair

Within the cohort of the people we have in our employ, there are those that are part of the Expanded Public Works Programme and those that were onboarded under the Covid-19 contracts whom we need to ensure that they are sufficiently capacitated to take advantage of opportunities within the healthcare system.

Programme Director,

In an effort to contribute to the re-skilling, upskilling and build capacity as part of the creation of a talent pipeline and entrepreneurial skills (job creator vs job seeker), we are in the process to sign agreements with institutions of higher learning and skills development centers to equip EPWP beneficiaries and our low-skilled employees with the necessary skills for sustainable employability. Today we have invited various institutions to showcase available career opportunities. I urge you to ensure that before you leave you engage with them at the exhibition stands.

The Impact Career Fair programme we have put in place is in line with the HRD Skills Development Framework 3: Pillar 2 which seeks to address skills development gaps.
Some of the benefits of this partnership includes:

  • Awareness and Education
  • Networking and Collaboration
  • Addressing Skills Gaps
  • Career Development and Advancement
  • Public Relations and Positive Image

To date, we have signed a five-year agreement with the South West Gauteng College (SWGC) to provide support for the upskilling of the EPWP cohort and many other workers. Through this partnership, EPWP beneficiaries will be placed on the short but highly impactful training programmes focused on Information Communication Technology, Finance and Computer Repairing.

The tide has turned!

A year ago, when I took office as the MEC of Health and Wellness, there were numerous challenges within our healthcare system, and I made a vow that we will turn the tide. Through resilience, innovation, and a shared vision, we have indeed turned the tide for the better.

In the past few months, we have through the public-private partnerships ensured that the construction process of building new clinics and the refurbishments of old facilities is accelerated. This morning, I was at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital to officially handover a 21-bedded Psychiatric Admission Ward to address the issue of overcrowding of the hospital's Accident and Emergency unit as mental health patients waiting for admission were accommodated in that section.

A number of newly built clinics including Sebokeng Zone 17, Phillip Moyo, and Finetown have been officially opened to service the communities. We have also opened the Zola Wits Dental Clinic to bring dental services to the residents of Soweto. Renovations and maintenance at Tambo Memorial Hospital, Tara Hospital, Bertha Gxowa Hospital, Hellen Joseph, Kopanong Hospital are either underway or being completed.

We are also taking advantage of technology to improve healthcare delivery for our residents. The Health Information System (HIS) has now been rolled-out at 32 out of 37 hospitals to improve patient administration, file management and the process of
referrals. The system has also improved billing of patients and revenue management for these hospitals. Once a patient is registered on the system, a Patient Master Index (PMI) number is generated, and it is used as a unique identifier. The PMI number plays a pivotal role of enabling the one-patient-one-file tracking, a digital file is created on the cloud which warrants the tracking of the patient's history and movement at all the HIS-live in hospitals and CHCs. By the end of the current financial year, all public hospitals will be live on HIS.

Taking Health Services to Communities #AsibeHealthyGP

Healthcare is a human right. We will continue to take our services to the communities we serve. Every week our mobile clinics visit hostels, informal settlements and townships to provide health screen services to our residents.

This progress is a testimony of our full commitment to this cause. We understand the urgency of the situation, and we are determined to leave a lasting impact on our healthcare system. Together, we will overcome the challenges we face and restore the Gauteng Province as a beacon of excellence in healthcare. By so doing, we will not only enhance the quality of healthcare services but also restore the trust and confidence of our community in the healthcare system. Together, let us embark on this journey of transformation, knowing that the future of our healthcare system rests in our hands.

Thank you and let us go and Serve with a Smile.