Despite its R499m upgrade by Gauteng Health, the AngloGold Ashanti COVID field hospital on the West Rand (Carletonville) has been closed and is being dismantled, having seen just a handful of patients since May 2021, when it was handed over to the province on a three-year lease.
At the end of last month (March), the 20 staff left because there were no patients, said Gauteng health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi, confirming that thus far, only 147 patients had been treated there. Sunday Times reports that when the hospital opened last May, it had only 80 of the 181 beds that had been planned.
Health Department spokesperson Kwara Kekana confirmed that all movable assets are being removed, adding that because of a change of scope from the original refurbishment of the 40-bed intensive care unit (ICU) hospital to a repurposed 175-bed ICU hospital, the budget had changed from R50m to R588m, of which R499m was spent.
The ballooning cost prompted a probe by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and nine senior officials from the departments of health and infrastructure were subsequently suspended. Civil litigation is before the Special Tribunal, said the SIU.
Dr Grant Lindsay, medical consultant for a large opencast mining company in Gauteng, said the hospital was just too far from Johannesburg to ease the burden on facilities taking up slack after a fire closed Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.
“If all of the medical facilities in Johannesburg were used properly there wouldn’t be such a load on the tertiary hospitals,” he said. “We’ve seen how many of these built EMS [emergency medical services] facilities [for COVID] stand empty and we’ve seen how many built EMS facilities are mostly incomplete. Every one a massive overspend.
“We put up our own field hospital with nine ICU beds with oxygen and it cost R220,000, so you can see how much of an overspend it was. You could build a decent clinic for R5m. For example, we bought our oxygen concentrators for R7,000 each. The government was paying R65,000 each.”
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