Dr Victor Litlhakanyane is the Managing Director of Ditau Health Solutions and has experience in both the public and private sectors. He joined the NMCH Trust team last year as the Commissioning Team Lead to assist with the opening of the hospital.
Can you please tell us more about your involvement with NMCH?
My role is to lead the commissioning team that was appointed to prepare the hospital for opening.
What does the commissioning team do at the Hospital?
The team takes over the hospital building from the contractors, puts all human resources, policies, systems, medical equipment and furniture in place, and hands the hospital over to the the management team.
How long have you been working on this project?
We started at the beginning of December 2015.
Working on a project like this, what specifically do you hope NMCH can change or improve when it comes to healthcare in the region?
We hope to ensure that the hospital is child- and family-centred and provides quality healthcare to children in the region.
Once it opens, who will actually have the authority to refer a case to NMCH? Can a home doctor/GP refer a patient directly to NMCH or must they first refer the patient to a specialist, who will then refer the patient to NMCH if necessary?
Children will be referred to the NMCH by General Paediatricians in the public and private sectors. GPs will refer children to a General Paediatrician in the public or private sector who will in turn refer the child to the available services at NMCH if appropriate.
We understand that 80% of patients will come from public hospitals and 20% from private hospitals. Can you tell us more about this?
Less than 20% of South African residents are covered by Medical Aids. Our proposed patient breakdown ensures that non-paying public patients have proportionate access to NMCH and that the hospital is not only used by private patients on Medical Aid.
What about emergencies? How will NMCH handle those?
All paediatric emergencies will be treated at existing public and private hospitals. Emergency patients that require services offered by NMCH will be referred by Paediatricians at these hospitals to NMCH seamlessly and efficiently.
What does it mean when you say that no child will be turned away due to inability to pay?
It means the criteria for admission will be based on the medical needs of the child and available services, and not whether their parents or guardians can pay for these services.
How will it work if a child from a rural area has no access to a doctor, only a clinic. Will the clinic refer them to NMCH?
As per the current referral system, the child will be referred by the Primary Healthcare Nurse to the nearest hospital, where his condition will be assessed by a doctor. The doctor will discuss further treatment with the paediatrician at the regional hospital. That paediatrician will then decide on further referral to NMCH if necessary.
NMCH will be the first children’s hospital in South Africa to do bone marrow transplants specifically for children. Can you tell us more?
A bone marrow transplant is an expensive but effective specialised treatment for children with conditions such as cancers of the blood. The availability of this service will improve survival of these patients dramatically. This is in line with our goals of making the latest medical interventions accessible to ordinary Africans.