The healthcare system in the Free State province has collapsed, as evidenced by oversight inspections of the Alfred Nzula District Hospital in Trompsburg and the National District Hospital in Bloemfontein. The Citizen reports that this is according to the Democratic Alliance (DA) whose candidate for the post of Free State premier, Patricia Kopane, said the visit to Alfred Nzula, which cost R380m to construct, showed the hospital was operating under capacity, with only 30 patients on average using its services on any given day.
“The hospital is supposed to service communities from Edenburg to Zastron but patients hardly come to the hospital because of the shortage of specialists and doctors,” she said, adding that lifts at the hospital had not functioned for months according to staff.
The DA said it had found that the Xhariep district municipality hospital was operating like a clinic, with critical positions still not filled. “There are two radiographers yet Xhariep has a significant number of TB patients. Of the two theatres at the hospital, only one is functioning and not for its intended purpose,” the report quotes Kopane as saying. “It is quite clear, with all the money spent to build this state-of-the-art hospital, there was no due diligence made and now the hospital has become a white elephant.”
According to the report, the DA said, at the National District Hospital, a R350m revitalisation project that started in 2017 and was projected to be finished this April was not even 50% complete, with the roof still broken, linen in shortage, and doctors struggling to sedate patients due to lack of equipment and anaesthetists.
Jane Cowley, shadow MEC for health in the Eastern Cape writes that hospital patients from Lady Grey have had to seek treatment in a hospital that was condemned in 2009, “because the government couldn’t be bothered to find alternative premises.”
Cowley writes: “Staff have been forced to work under exceptionally trying conditions, with the Lady Grey Hospital literally crumbling around them, because the Health Department has failed to budget for much needed repairs.
“I have written to the MEC of Health, Helen Sauls-August, to request her urgent intervention in addressing the crisis at the Lady Grey Hospital and to ensure that, at the very least, commitments made to repair failing infrastructure is prioritised.
“Last year after heavy rains, the roof of one section of the hospital collapsed, which resulted in a whole wing being sectioned off and closed. The Health Department undertook to effect repairs by January this year, but so far nothing has been done. The Democratic Alliance has learnt that the date for the repair of the roof has now been pushed back to April – the beginning of the new financial year, which is simply unacceptable.
“The lack of wards has resulted in patients with chronic and contagious illnesses, such as tuberculosis, being kept in general wards with other patients. There is simply no space to put them anywhere else. A small consultancy room has been converted into the hospital’s casualty ward, but only has space for one bed.
“To add to the woes of the hospital, dreadful staff shortages are the norm. The dispensary is unstaffed. Medicines have to be requisitioned from the totally dysfunctional Mthatha Medical Depot, which means the hospital and a few clinics in the surrounding rural areas regularly experience medical stock-outs.
“Lady Grey is a remote town in the foothills of the Drakensburg. Residents in the town and surrounding villages do not have the luxury of being able to travel elsewhere to seek medical care. As a result, they suffer the consequences of departmental inaction that has brought the hospital to its knees.”The Citizen report