Committee on Health concerned about the collapse of public hospitals in the North West province
On 2 to 3 June 2015, the North West Provincial Legislature’s Portfolio Committee on Health and Social Development led by Hon. Nono Maloyi resolved to call on the MEC for the Department of Health, MEC Magome Masike and the MEC for Finance, Environment and Economic Development, MEC Wendy Nelson including their senior officials to account on the current status quo of public hospitals after conducting unannounced oversight visits to hospitals where they were met with serious disturbing conditions.
The committee conducted the oversight visits at the Mafikeng Provincial Hospital known as Bophelong Hospital and the Lehurutshe District Clinic to check the status quo and the working conditions of the hospitals and check deliverables on the availability in the supply of medication to service points.
The committee was disturbed to find amongst other things, that Lehurutshe Hospital had been operating without any hot water for years to sterilise or bath, placing a serious risk to the lives of patients. Boilers that are meant to cater for the in patients were all found to be non-functional. All patient files located in the filing room were congested due to lack of proper filing system in the hospital which leads to long patient waiting times as it becomes a tedious exercise to draw files while at the same time contributes to duplication of files.
The hospital experiences overcrowding which is a serious impediment and high risk for cross infections especially on post theatre cases that requires separation causing high chances of infection particularly on septic cases. Furthermore, the hospital experiences gross shortage of beds while patients clothing is at the most warn and torn.
Another area of concern is the lack of privacy at both surgical and medical male and female wards respectively as there are no dividing screens as well as curtains. Due to gross staff shortages, the vicinity is dirty because there are only two cleaners allocated who clean the whole hospital.
The theatre air conditioner plant has not been serviced for more than two years.
Expressing shock and disgust, Hon. Maloyi said, “The hospital which was meant to cater for the whole of Ramotshere-Moiloa is in a state of collapse and I would recommend it to be closed, nobody deserves to be in such a depressing and indecent environment,” said Hon. Maloyi.
Meanwhile, during the committee visit at Mahikeng Provincial Hospital the committee found that the Provincial Hospital only operates with one (1) boiler that has not been serviced for over a period of two years and could collapse at any point in time. Another finding is that the capacity of the mortuary can only cater for only 48 bodies at a time which leads to overcrowding and subsequent outsourcing.
Mention is also made that there is an urgent need to disinfect the mortuary due to a staunch and offending smell in that area. There is a general lack of equipment and the current nurses are mostly students who operate without supervision therefore running a risk of medico legal cases that could lead to litigations.
Due to severe shortage of beds, Patients end up sleeping on the floors at paediatric wards and there is Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit and patients often have to wait long-queues to be assisted.
When the committee questioned the senior officials at both hospitals they responded by saying that on numerous occasions they tried to send all necessary requirements that needed as a matter of urgency but the department has not assisted on many occasions and they say that they are often told that there is no budget.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Mahikeng Provincial Hospital, Mr. Adriaan Lawrence mentioned to the committee that the hospital has written on many occasions to the provincial department to assist them but the supply chain management takes forever to process craft specifications of their needs.
“What can one do to save lives of many when an equipment or a day to day maintenance is needed at a certain urgent time? This is very frustrating for both casualties and staff working here,” said Mr. Lawrence
“There is no patient or staff satisfaction in this hospital” he said. Amongst some of the findings that both hospitals are faced is the high shortage of professional nurses, which has become a matter of national crisis, the slow supply chain management processes that takes months to purchase day to day maintenance, lack of supply of medication to service points, the salary scale of public hospitals is not competitive as opposed to the private hospitals and Emergency Medical Rescue Services (EMRS) does not have sufficient equipment meant for immediate attention on a patient.
The committee also paid the Mathibestadt Community Health Centre at Moretele Local Municipality a visit, and were happy with the infrastructural developments that the health centre has thus far however, members were concerned amongst others on the delay of the project, some non-payments to the consultant handling the project, and strategic human capital plans and job creations plans that have not been outlined to cater for the new development.
The committee thus recommended to call the Department of Health to respond to some of the matters raised with regard to the new Community Health Centre meant to cater for the whole community of Moretele.
North West Provincial Legislature
Source : South African Government