Lesotho: Health DG Accused of Maladministration, Corruption

The Ministry of Health’s director general of health services, Nyane Letsie, has once again been accused of maladministration and corruption.

Some health workers accused Dr Letsie of failing to execute the ministry’s mandate of providing quality health services to the public.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, some workers in the ministry blasted her for reportedly refusing to reform the ministry’s Credentials Committee.

The Committee is tasked with assessing and overseeing the duties and performance of consultant medical specialists engaged by the ministry.

The employees alleged that some of the consultants were not suitably qualified and they under-performed.

Dr Letsie has also been taken to task for refusing to transfer doctors who worked at Queen II District Hospital to address the acute shortage of doctors in other districts.

The health centre is being rebuilt after it was demolished to make way for new buildings. It was more than 100 years old.

The employees said that Dr Letsie had been suspended from her position on several occasions but she always made “suspicious” comebacks.

She was first suspended in 2018 over allegations that she sent an undeserving patient to India for the cancer and renal patients’ treatment programme.

Dr Letsie sued the government over the suspension but lost the case. Despite losing, she was later reinstated by the then Health Minister Nkaku Kabi, who said he wanted to work with her.

Dr Letsie was again suspended on 28 July 2020 over allegations that she had habitually and deliberately underperformed in her duties.

The employees said the director general owes her latest recall from the suspension to the good relations she allegedly enjoys with Health Minister, Semano Sekatle’s family.

“She has the health minister to thank for her last comeback. There was no disciplinary hearing prior to her being recalled to office.

“No one can be suspended four times in a period of four years if she is clean and executing her duties well,” one staffer said on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation.

Contacted for comment yesterday, Mr Sekatle reacted angrily to the employees’ allegations about him helping Dr Letsie to return to work.

He told this reporter to stop meddling in his family’s issues.

“Go back to whoever gave you that information. I’ve not time to comment on such silly issues,” Mr Sekatle said.

The employees also said they were aware that Dr Letsie had been advised by one of the senior managers to review the way things have been run in the ministry in order to improve the health system but she had not taken any action.

“We are aware that she was advised to review the Credentials Committee and transfer some of the doctors who worked in Queen II to understaffed health facilities but she has not done so,” said one of the employees.

“Instead the consultant doctors bunk work. They operate their own thriving private clinics while patients who seek services at public hospitals are left to suffer from their frequent absence at work.”

Another employee said the ministry spends about M600 000 on one consultant doctor per year, yet they spent most of their time running their private clinics.

Some of them even referred patients from government hospitals to their private facilities so that they can make more money.

They also alleged the Credentials Committee was performing poorly because its members were handpicked by the director general.

“Currently, some of the doctors are not being utilised since the reconstruction of Queen II began. Their services would come in handy in other districts such as Mafeteng and Motebang in Leribe, which are under-staffed,” the employees said.

“Queen II hospital is under construction and because in-patient and other services such as diagnostics, laboratory, and radiology are not being offered, the consultants there are not being utilised.”

Contacted for comment this week, Dr Letsie refuted the allegations.

She blamed one Dr James Fan, the former director of clinical services. Dr Letsie accused Dr Fan of causing confusion and threatening some of the consultants.

“He is a lair. The person who gave you this information is Dr Fan. I can sense this is coming from him and it is not true. The consultants are still working within their schedules and rotate per districts. I can even tell you that they are training young doctors,” she said.

She added the health ministry management had resolved to remove Dr Fan from his position after losing consultants who left because of his alleged poor conduct.

“He was on trial in that position as he got appointed because he was the most qualified then among the applicants with a PhD qualification,” Dr Letsie noted.

“Dr Fan harassed some of the consultants accusing them of not working. It is sad because one of the consultants has decided not to renew his contract because of him. We removed him because of misconduct and insubordination.”

Dr Letsie also dismissed claims by the staffers that her last suspension was lifted without a hearing.

“What happened was that on the day we were supposed to have a hearing, the ministry’s witness did not show up and hence it was resolved that there was no case to answer. That is how I returned to work,” she explained.

The director general said that she was not related to Health Minister Mr Sekatle in any way, adding that he had nothing to do with her return to office.

On his part, Dr Fan denied the director general’s claims that he was removed from his position as director of clinical services due to incompetence.

He also denied leaking information to outsiders.

“What happened is that I wrote a letter to the director general suggesting how the ministry can improve the country’s health system. This information was shared with other senior officials within the ministry, so I really do not know who could have leaked it,” Dr Fan said.

He said he had requested the transfer of consultants from Queen II to other hospitals but Dr Letsie had refused.

“Dr Letsie needs to be truthful about why she removed me from my post. She removed me because I tried to push her to improve the health system but she refused,” Dr Fan added.

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