IFP: Call for establishment of Task Team to curb drug theft in KZN hospitals

The IFP calls on the KZN MEC of Health, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu to establish a task team aimed at reducing the rampant theft of medications in Provincial healthcare facilities.

The recent case where a nurse from Eshowe hospital is facing allegations of fraudulently using a patient’s name to gain access to a fast, effective and highly addictive injection prescribed to patients for severe pain has exposed the lack of a mechanism to prevent theft of medicines and other supplies from hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal. The case has exposed the chinks in the healthcare system where there is no accountability for the supplies in hospitals.

The task team on theft of medicines will weigh heavily on selfish health workers who are in the habit of stealing drugs from hospitals and clinics and sometimes reselling them to black market. Government is losing a lot of money through the vice. We believe this could be widespread in KZN healthcare facilities and needs to be stopped urgently.

Medical staff who steal medicines in hospitals are putting patients’ lives at risk therefore they have no place in our healthcare facilities.

Drug theft is an area of concern. it is unfortunate that people can steal drugs meant for patients attending government health centres. Aggravating the problem is that some hospitals have been lax in tracking drug supplies. The IFP says “thieving medical staff” must be flushed out from our hospitals. The KZN MEC of Health must ensure that she hold medical personnel accountable when they take advantage of their unique position and tamper with drugs needed by their patients, especially when such tampering could cause unnecessary shortage, pain and suffering.

Furthermore, there must be a clamp down on drug diversion. Some pharmacists do it by forging prescriptions or calling in phony orders. In the most egregious cases, health care providers steal powerful narcotics by tampering with vials and syringes, potentially exposing themselves and other patients to infectious diseases.

Those health employees who are entrusted with serving our nation’s wounded, ill and injured must be held to a higher standard.

The IFP further recommends leveraging prescription drug monitoring programs; equipping healthcare workers with interoperable health information; using secure, interoperable technology across the care continuum; and using technological advances to securely share information across disciplines. There must be a better monitoring of and stricter access to pharmacies and safes, a separation of duties in regards to the drug supply process and regular compliance checks.

The IFP further calls for enforcement of searching of hospital workers when leaving premises for healthcare facilities as others are alleged to be stealing drugs.

Lastly, we call for an even stricter monitoring and evaluation on medical doctors working in public hospitals who own private practices, there has been allegations that they are more involved in medicine theft.

Government should implement a proactive overall monitoring in the whole country on all hospitals and health care systems to ensure medical staff don’t illegally shift large volumes of pills for resell.

Mrs Ncamisile Nkwanyana, MPL
IFP KZN Spokesperson on Health,
078 302 3991