The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has presented a ‘Report on the Review of the Practices and Procedures of the Management of the Serabu Community Hospital, Bo district’, to the Management and Staff of the Catholic Diocese of Bo, the Serabu Community Hospital and ‘German Doctors Hilfe, Die Bleibt’.
This is following a comprehensive and thorough systems and processes review exercise on the Hospital.
The presentation of the Report took place on Wednesday 8th September 2021 at the St. Francis Xavier Hall in Bo.
The exercise is in accordance with Section 7(2)(c)(g)(h) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 as amended in 2019, which mandates the Commission to review practices and procedures in Ministries, Departments, Agencies (MDAs), persons, authority, public body, or private sector institutions in order to identify corruption vulnerabilities and make recommendations to improve on efficiency and effective service delivery.
The ACC’s intervention to conduct the systems review exercise was prompted by a letter addressed to the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Bo, Most Rev. Charles A. M Campbell, by the ‘German Doctors Hilfe, Die Bleibt’.
The letter made a series of corruption-related claims against the Management of the Hospital including; “recurring structural problems” at the Hospital, “non-settlement of account dating back to April, 2021”, “not acting on an Independent Audit issues, resulting to some worsening off”, “theft of medicine”, “violation of procurement rules”, and “doctors and CHOs working for weeks without gloves and medicine, even though funding was provided for by the German Doctors”.
The review aimed to identify system failures at the Serabu Community Hospital; examine the structural problems raised by the German Doctors; examine the various structures of the Serabu Hospital with a view of identifying weaknesses in practices and procedures and proffering appropriate instructions; instruct the establishment of an appropriate systems and processes in place at the Hospital and; restore trust between the German Doctors and the Steering Management Board of the Hospital to continue their cooperation in the interest of the people of Serabu and its environs.
The review exercise captured Seventeen (17) key findings contained under four broad categories: issues highlighted in the letter of the German Doctors, recommendations of an independent review of the operations of the Serabu Community Hospital, corruption risk assessment and grievance redress mechanism to address patients’ concerns.
The findings include; violation of procurement rules, non-availability of gloves for use in hospital, no trained and qualified pharmacist and drug storekeeper, no internal auditor and monitoring and evaluation officer, the existence of a dormant Hospital Board, nonexistence of financial policy and procedure manual, no automated recording of the dispensation of the drugs in the pharmacy, no fixed asset register and fixed asset management, non-issuance of receipt for the various services paid for by patients.
These findings underscored the complaints of the German Doctors and many were confirmed. It also took into consideration cooperation lapses in the partnership agreement between the Hospital, the Catholic Diocese of Bo and the German Doctors.
The Report proffers Seventy-three (73) recommendations which the Commission has urged the Hospital Management to implement with utmost urgency in a bid to address these systems weaknesses. Some of the key recommendations are as follows:
That monthly stock taking be conducted on the Hospital’s main medical stores and pharmacy;
That Close Circuit Televisions (CCTV) be installed in strategic locations such as the gate, pharmacy, corridors of wards and stores;
The Hospital’s Management to increase the presence of security guards as well as capacitating them on security matters;
That trained and qualified pharmacist and drugs storekeeper be immediately recruited;
That a service charter be developed, placed in strategic location, and regularly updated when there are changes in prices and services;
An internal auditor be recruited and strengthened to ensure the effective monitoring and reporting of compliance to internal administrative control;
A monitoring and evaluation officer be recruited to ensure the continued tracking and assessment of achievement of set project objectives and deliverables as well as identifying deviation from project criterion;
That the Board be properly constituted and regularly meets at established periods and times, to discuss and take decisions on the day-to-day running of the Hospital with the view that the Germans will be provided updates, minutes shared with them of Board meetings;
Annual, quarterly and monthly financial and narrative reports should be submitted to the Board for scrutiny to provide them the opportunity to address any problem on time;
Major procurements and other major decisions should be deliberated and approved by the Board in a Board meeting before execution;
That Management develops a financial procedure manual;
That standardised receipts be issued for all revenues collected by the Hospital; and that a fixed asset policy be developed and implemented.
The Commission shall monitor implementation of the recommendations within three months of the date of the presentation of the Report.
The Catholic Church, the Hospital and their partners have written to the ACC appreciating the Commission for its timely intervention and remedial actions.
The Commission wishes to reassure the general public of its resolve to fight corruption at all levels and work to strengthen systems and processes in public bodies throughout Sierra Leone.