AS Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi yesterday announced progress in placing chief executive officers in hospitals across the country, chaos continued to reign in the Eastern Cape.
Nationwide, the 120 chief executive officers appointed as part of a plan to overhaul management of public hospitals all have management experience and are health professionals.
They take up their posts next month.
However, in the Eastern Cape, many hospitals remain without bosses.
The only academic hospital in the province, Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha, does not have a chief executive officer.
District hospitals in the province had acting chief executive officers and had not even started the process of appointing full-time bosses, the minister said.
Motsoaledi said the Eastern Cape lagged behind because officials had not finished "recategorisng their hospitals" into one of five categories ranging from academic hospitals to rural and district ones.
A senior health official said chief executive officers had not been appointed at large and district Eastern Cape hospitals because of "political interference".
At the Port Elizabeth hospital complex – made up of three hospitals – there is only one chief executive officer, whereas three were planned for.
Dr Giles Hartman said he was head- hunted to work as chief executive officer at the Port Elizabeth hospital complex, but his application papers disappeared.
Hartman had refused to start work until all the papers were signed, saying without a contract government would not pay him. "I am not interested any more."
In the other provinces, the process to appoint suitable candidates for hospitals began in August 2011.
The government published a document placing hospitals in five categories and defining what qualifications chief executive officers needed for each type.
Motsoaledi said the recruitment of chief executive officers was a "very difficult process because we were looking for the best quality". Acting chief executive officers who were not qualified were moved to other positions within hospitals.