Mkhwebane finds major issues at SA hospitals, but happy that authorities are dealing with problems

Public protector releases reports after visits to hospitals in Gauteng, Limpopo, KZN and Mpumalanga last year

01 October 2021 - 17:35
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. File photo.
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. File photo.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi

The provision of health services at selected hospitals in Gauteng, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga do not meet the obligations imposed by the constitution and the law.

This is one of the findings contained in four reports issued by public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane on Friday after visits by her officials to a number of hospitals in August last year.

Briefing the media on Friday, Mkhwebane said she and deputy public protector Kholeka Gcaleka, accompanied by a team of investigators, traversed the length and breadth of the country, visiting more than a dozen hospitals in five provinces to conduct inspections at the facilities.

During those visits, they identified a variety of shortcomings, including poor physical infrastructure, staff shortages and unavailability of equipment.

The aim of the inspection was to assess how the facilities coped with the demand for services. They also looked into the general conditions at the facilities.

On Friday, the public protector issued reports in respect of conditions in those hospitals. The report for the Eastern Cape had been issued earlier.

The KwaZulu-Natal hospitals are Christ the King District Hospital in Ixopo, Rietvlei Hospital in uMzimkhulu, Mbongolwane District Hospital in Eshowe and KwaMagwaza District Hospital in Melmoth.

Another report deals with findings concerning the WF Knobel Hospital in Polokwane, Limpopo.

There is also a report on the conditions at Themba Hospital in Kabokweni in Mpumalanga.

Another report dealt with conditions at the Jubilee District Hospital, Dr George Mukhari Hospital, Steve Biko Academic Hospital, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Lillian Ngoyi Community Health Centre and Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital in Gauteng.

The Gauteng report found there were administrative deficiencies at the provincial department of health that led to systemic challenges in the delivery of primary healthcare services at all six hospitals.

Investigators found that at Dr George Mukhari Hospital there were delays in the procurement of medical equipment which was requested more than three years ago.

Baragwanath Hospital has human resources capacity constraint challenges and as a result cannot handle the influx of patients at the hospital, which is said to be a historical challenge,” Gcaleka said.

At Lillian Ngoyi Community Health Centre, evidence obtained revealed systemic deficiencies such as a lack of hot water in the labour ward.

However, new geysers and heaters have since been installed at the facility after the intervention of the public protector, Gcaleka said.

At Themba Hospital in Kabokweni, investigations revealed a maternity ward in a deplorable state where patients' rights were violated.

“There is not enough space as there are only two delivery beds, no privacy, no decent waiting area, and there is a shortage of staff though the hospital delivers 15 to 18 babies per day,” Mkhwebane said.

She said the provincial departments of health and public works have indicated that the construction of a new maternity ward was planned to start in the second quarter of 2021/22 and estimated to take 36 months to complete.

Mkhwebane has instructed each hospital to address the specific problems they face. She has also instructed the heads of provincial health and public works departments to address the identified problems.

“It warms the heart that the authorities in the three provinces have conceded to most if not all of the deficiencies that were picked up during inspections and investigations.

“Above all, undertakings have been made to make amends and in some instances the implementation of remedies are under way.”

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