Young mothers at Frere Hospital in Buffalo City Metro, most of whom have just had Caesarean sections and whose babies are in the Intensive Care Unit, have been relegated to a small room in the hospital and are forced to sleep on mattresses on the floor.
Far worse, however, is that they have reportedly received no care for their Caesarean wounds, they are completely unable to practice any form of social distancing, and they are not allowed to leave the room. This inhumane treatment of patients is outrageous!
Just last week the Eastern Cape Health MEC, Sindiswa Gomba, stated publicly that there are enough beds in the province for all patients and that all bed shortages have been dealt with.
Clearly this is not the case. The mothers in this makeshift ward, which is not a ward but a small room on the ground floor (room 99), have no beds. They are sleeping on mattresses on the floor and when they queried the situation, a doctor allegedly told them that there are patients who need the beds more than they do.
I have written to the MEC to request a full explanation for this total disrespect for patients’ rights, as they are entitled to the same quality of care as any other patients in the hospital.
While the department spends hundreds of millions of rands annually on paying successful medico-legal claims against it, no steps seem to have been taken to improve the conditions leading to these claims.
Health personnel continue to treat patients in their care with gross negligence, which could once again result in claims against them.
Like all other government departments in the province, the Eastern Cape Health Department has thousands of directors, chiefs, senior managers. There is an endless stream of bureaucrats feeding off of state funds, but a desperate shortage of frontline staff who have to deal with shortages of beds, medication, equipment and EMS services.
The needs of patients in this province will always come second. Until such time that this department is led by a competent, passionate and highly experienced person who puts public health above all else, nothing will change.
Issued by Jane Cowley (MPL) Democratic Alliance Eastern Cape Shadow MEC for Health