UCT Medical Centre secures a lifeline

19 August 2002
APPLAUSE broke out among staff at the UCT Medical Centre (UCTMC) following the news that a new majority shareholder had been found for the facility.

The announcement followed the earlier withdrawal of Rhön Klinikum (RKA), the German Hospital Group that had an 81% shareholding in the UCTMC, placing the facility, and the fate of its staff, in jeopardy. Academic clinicians, UCT management and the directors of RKA immediately began negotiations to ensure the future of the Centre.

A new agreement was signed between UCT and Westcare Hospitals that will see Westcare become the majority shareholder in the UCTMC. Council approved the deal on August 7. Westcare holds 50% of the Centre and UCT 26%, up from its former 19% shareholding. The remaining shares (24%) will be held by a group of practitioners.

Speaking after the announcement, UCT's Gerda Kruger, Executive Director of Communication and Marketing, said the University was "ecstatic" that the facility would remain open to continue its "outstanding work". The sentiment was endorsed by the Centre's staff, many of whom had gathered anxiously in the conference room to hear their fate.

Kruger praised RKA for allowing the smooth change of ownership. "Rhön Klinikum have created a very special facility in the tradition of quality healthcare and they leave us with a heritage of quality systems, a superb management model and operational excellence. We welcome our new partners and we have no doubt that the UCT Medical Centre will continue to provide world-class healthcare."

Spokesperson for Westcare Hospitals, Dr Mark Mills, said the UCTMC was a "wonderfully" equipped facility that provided Cape Town and South Africa with a venue for quality healthcare at affordable prices.

Westcare Hospitals is a hospital owner and management company with interests in, among others, Mbabane Private Hospital and Traumalink Swazi. Their interests in the Cape include Kenilworth Clinic, Libertas Hospital and Tijger Clinic. They also hold interests in the Pines Clinic in Worcester and the Aurora Hospital in Port Elizabeth.

Jürgen Stuhlinger, spokesperson for RKA, said: "RKA's reasons for leaving South Africa are strategic in terms of RKA's global planning. They leave a superb hospital in very capable hands. It is an asset for Cape Town and South Africa and a trailblazer for a new vision for healthcare in Africa."

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