Improving KZN’s Health Care Service Delivery a Priority for PhD Graduate
With more than 30 years of experience in KwaZulu-Natal’s public health care sector, PhD graduate Dr Sagaren Govender has first-hand experience of the negative effect an exodus of skilled and professional staff has on health care service delivery and is hoping his research will help provide solutions.
Govender, who is employed as an office manager in the Health Technology Services at Wentworth Hospital in Durban, first did research in 2014 for his master’s degree into why service delivery was failing at Addington Hospital in Durban.
For his PhD, Govender took his research a step further by aiming to provide guidelines for improved health care service delivery within the existing legislation in the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health.
‘Currently, the public health care sector is facing a myriad challenges impacting negatively on health care service delivery,’ said Govender. ‘Critical posts can take up to six months to fill when they become vacant, which results in increased workloads for existing staff when such posts are not filled timeously. For example, the KZN Department of Health is currently facing a drastic shortage of oncologists who are critically needed to treat patients in the region.
‘The lack of skilled and competent staff at management levels is another problem faced by the public health care sector. Managers do not have leadership capabilities crucial for dealing with complex issues that dominate the sector,’ he said.
His PhD study titled: Developing a Leadership Model to Enhance Health Care Service Delivery in Regional Hospitals, was supervised by Dr Cecile Gerwel Proches and Dr Abdulla Kader. It explores leadership in relation to health care service delivery at RK Khan Hospital, King Edward VIII Hospital, Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital and Grey's Hospital in Pietermaritzburg.
‘The study identified leadership as being fundamentally important for improving service delivery in regional hospitals,’ said Govender. ‘An integrated leadership approach was recommended for optimising health care service delivery. Due to a continuously evolving health care environment with diverse cultures, the study suggested that different leadership styles should be used in different situations.’
Govender presented a paper titled: Developing a Leadership Model to Enhance Health Care Service Delivery in Regional Hospitals at the IRES International Conference on Economics and Social Sciences in Cape Town in May.
A keen road runner, Govender has participated in nine Comrades Marathons, five Two Oceans marathons and various other marathons.
Words and photograph by: Thandiwe Jumo